Royals sue Associated Press over holiday photos

Prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maximá pose for photographers together with their children Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.
By our news staff

Dutch royals prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maximá have filed a lawsuit against the Associated Press over pictures taken during a ski holiday in Argentina.

The US agency Associated Press distributed four pictures of Willem-Alexander, Maximá and their daughter princess Amalia while on holiday in the Argentinian ski resort Villa La Angostura this summer.

In a lawsuit set to start on August 14, the royals are demanding that the AP remove the pictures from its database and promise not to distribute any more pictures of the royals when they are not in official function.

Last Thursday, a lawyer for the royals sent a letter to several Dutch media that had published AP's ski pictures. Newspapers AD and Trouw, the press agency GPD and Ilse Media, owner of the website nu.nl, all promised within the requested 24 hours not to publish similar pictures in the future.

The government information agency RVD said the pictures constitute a violation of the so-called media code, an arrangement between the royal family and the Dutch media that is usually well respected. The media code stipulates that only pictures of Willem-Alexander and Maximá taken while they are "in function" may be published.

In exchange, the royals regularly pose for pre-arranged "photo ops", such as a trip to the beach at the Wassenaar last month.

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The Associated Press was the only media company not to respond to the royal letter. The letter had mistakenly been delivered to the complaints department, said the AP's Amsterdam bureau chief, Arthur Max.

The AP has asked for more time while its legal department in New York studies the issue.

In a reaction, the RVD said it wants the AP to recognise that it has violated the private sphere of the royal family. "We also want to how they intend to handle things for the duration of this holiday, and in the future. They have to remove the pictures from their database. If they promise to do so, we will call off the lawsuit," the RVD said.

The AP issued a statement saying the pictures were taken from a "respectful" distance. "In this case the member of the royal family are public figures in a ski resort outside their own country. The AP considers that it has the right to photograph them as such."

One of the pictures was made by an AP staff photographer, Natacha Pisarenko, who just happened to be at the ski resort, the AP said. The other three were taken by a local photographer.

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