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Freedom of the Press

DW staff (als)March 18, 2008

Princess Caroline of Monaco suffered a legal setback on Tuesday, March 18, in her attempt to stop German magazines from publishing unauthorized photographs of her leisure-time activities.

Princess Caroline of Monaco
Princess Caroline has been embroiled in legal battles for yearsImage: dpa

Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe rejected a grievance from Princess Caroline of Monaco concerning the publication of a report and photographs about the leasing of the Kenyan home of the princess and her German husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover.

The court said prohibiting the publication of such photos was a restriction of freedom of the press. Those rights did not just cover reports on "scandalous behavior in breach of moral or legal standards" but also reports about the "normalcy of everyday life," provided they were useful to forming an opinion about matters of general interest, the court said.

The images had appeared in the weekly magazine Sieben Tage alongside a news item about the couple's Kenyan home. The report addressed the fact that more and more celebrities are leasing out their holiday homes.

Princess Caroline
A 2004 ruling said only photos of Caroline in a public role were permittedImage: AP

The court also rejected Caroline's grevience against the earlier publication of an article with photographs about the illness of her father, Monaco's Prince Rainier III, who is meanwhile deceased.

Mixed verdicts

The Constitutional Court did, however, affirm a ban on photos published in the German magazine Frau im Spiegel showing Caroline skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The Monaco princess, sister of ruler Prince Albert, has won several significant victories in German and Europe-level courts in her ongoing battle against the paparazzi, arguing that the tabloid media has no right to show her except at public events.

In June 2004, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that photos of the princess which were published in 1993 and 1997 were illegal, because she had not been photographed in any official capacity and there was no proof that the photos documented issues of general public concern.

While Germany has abolished its aristocracy, readers of national magazines enjoy detailed coverage of the lives of other European royalty, heightening the demand for snapshots of the glam clan.