Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are fed up with photographers using long lenses and deploying drones to capture images of them and their son Archie inside of their home, and now they’re taking the paparazzi to task in court, Fox News has confirmed.
In a complaint submitted to a Los Angeles court Thursday on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and obtained by Fox News, high-power celebrity attorney Michael J. Kump states that the filing stems from alleged “serial intrusions on the privacy of a 14-month-old child in his own home,” in addition to “the desire and responsibility of any parent to do what is necessary to protect their children from this manufactured feeding frenzy.”
Markle, 38, and Harry, 35, said the tabloid harassment finally came to a head when they saw that a photo of Archie was being offered to media outlets that was purportedly taken on a family outing in Malibu, when it was clearly shot while he was in their yard, unbeknownst to them.
“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,” Kump told Fox News in a statement on Thursday. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit 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.”
In January, the couple announced their decision to “step back” as senior members of the royal family, seek financial independence and move to North America. The split became official at the end of March.
The couple chose to live at least part-time in North America “to escape the incessant UK tabloid fabrications,” the lawsuit says. Meghan is also suing a pair of media outlets there for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement.
The Sussexes were able to live quietly in North Saanich, Canada, for six weeks, the lawsuit says, before a British tabloid published their exact location and hordes of photographers descended, prompting them to head to the California home where their location was again published and paparazzi appeared in droves again.
The lawsuit says the family was forced to erect a large mesh fence to block photographers with telephoto lenses from shooting pictures of them from a ridge hundreds of yards away from the home of a friend in a gated community where they have been living.
According to the complaint, photographers got more creative in their approach to the property and once again descended on the residence, but this time with the use of drone cameras and helicopters.
“Some paparazzi and media outlets have flown drones a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence,” Kump scribes in the complaint. “Others have flown helicopters above the backyard of the residence, as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m., waking neighbors and their son, day after day. And still others have even cut holes in the security fence itself to peer through it.”
In May, the Los Angeles Police Department also told Fox News that reports have been made regarding the presence of drones in the surrounding areas close to Harry and Markle’s home.
“Reports of drone activity have become more prevalent in the surrounding area near the reported residence,” a source inside the LAPD relayed to Fox News at the time, noting that the force “can’t disclose who has made calls to police.”
Despite the uptick in unidentified flying objects whizzing around the skies in the “area near the reported residence,” the LAPD was adamant that “whether the drone-related incidents are found to be in violation of regulations or not, we take in all privacy issues as serious matters.”
Meanwhile, the former “Suits” actress and Harry learned that a number of photos of Archie were being shopped to publications, which is when the complaint states they moved to take action.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that said photos of Archie are not only unlawful but were intentionally mislabeled given the fact that photos of any minor child taken in the privacy of their own home are illegal.
“The Plaintiffs have done everything in their power to stay out of the limelight except in connection with their work, which they freely admit is newsworthy,” Kump declares in the filing. “But the photos at issue are not news. They are not public interest. They are harassment. The sole point to taking and/or selling such invasive photos is to profit from a child.”
For their effort and that of Kump — the Sussexes are suing three different John Doe defendants, according to the complaint in hopes of identifying the culprit photographer and letting any potential purchasers know that such photos were snapped illegally.
They’re also ordering any illegal photos of Archie immediately be turned over and for additional measures are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and sixth in line to the British throne, married Markle, an American actress who grew up in Los Angeles, at Windsor Castle in 2018, in a posh ceremony watched around the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.