Royal expatriates Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles paparazzi to stop the “disgusting and wrong” sale of a photograph taken of their 14-month-old son Archie.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday, is an emotion-filled legal broadside aimed at stopping publication of the photograph, taken by an unknown photographer, and the “manufactured feeding frenzy” caused by the paparazzi.
“This action arises out of the relentless and quite frankly shocking efforts of the tabloid media to profit from serial intrusions on the privacy of a 14-month-old child in his own home,” the court papers state. “And the desire and responsibility of any parent to do what is necessary to protect their children.”
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“Every individual and family member in California is guaranteed by law the right to privacy in their home. No drones, helicopters or telephoto lenses can take away that right,” the couple’s lawyer, Michael Kump, said in a statement to USA TODAY, adding that the lawsuit is seeking to “protect their young son’s right to privacy in their home without intrusion by photographers, and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions.”
The court papers detail Harry and Meghan’s move to North America at the beginning of the year, where they lived for six weeks “unmolested” in North Saanich, Canada. But a British tabloid publicized their “exact location, which as usual resulted in up to 40 paparazzi and media organizations descending on this peaceful community.”
The papers state the disruption forced the family to move to a gated Los Angeles community, where the paparazzi followed again, despite efforts made such as placing a large mesh fence to block long-lens photographers perched on a ridge over the house.
“Unfortunately, their best efforts have not been entirely successful, owing to the ingenuity of the tabloid media and its insatiable appetite for harassing and intruding upon the privacy of the family,” the lawsuit states of the couple.
The papers portray paparazzi flying drones “a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day” to take photographs in their private residence and cutting holes in their security fence to look through. Others have flown helicopters over their backyard “as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m., waking neighbors and their son, day after day,” the papers state.
But the paparazzi “have crossed a red line for any parent,” according to the papers. The couple believe pictures of Archie are being offered for sale “falsely” claiming to have been taken on public property in Malibu, when in fact they say they were taken in their backyard.
“Archie has not been in public, much less in Malibu, since the family arrived here,” the lawsuit says.
It alleges the picture is mislabeled because the sellers knew it would be unlawful for them to sell a photograph of a child in his own home. “The photos at issue are not news. They are not in the public interest,” the papers state. “They are harassment.”
The lawsuit seeks to learn the identity of the photographers, referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit, unspecified financial relief and to have the photos handed over to Harry and Meghan. It further calls to stop further “harassment,” against the family, a word used nine times in the 10-page legal filing.
The couple “seek no special treatment whatsoever,” the papers state, but seek “the right to be left alone in the privacy of their home — a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the State of California.”
The official spokesperson for Harry and Meghan declined to elaborate further.
The couple chose to live at least part-time in North America in January “to escape the incessant UK tabloid fabrications,” the lawsuit says.
Harry and Meghan are suing three British tabloids in two separate suits in London. Meghan’s lawsuit accuses The Mail on Sunday of invasion of privacy and copyright infringement for publishing a letter she wrote to her estranged father in the months after her 2018 wedding to Harry at Windsor Castle. Harry is suing The Sun and The Mirror newspapers for allegedly hacking his phone back when he was a teenager.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harry and Meghan file lawsuit to stop ‘disgusting’ sale of Archie photo