There’s a bit of a fuss in the news today about a letter apparently written by HM Queen Elizabeth to newspaper and magazine editors about paparazzi photographers “intruding on the royal family’s privacy” ahead of its traditional Christmas break at Sandringham.
“Members of the royal family feel they have a right to privacy when they are going about everyday, private activities,” said Paddy Harverson, spokesman for the queen’s son Prince Charles. [Reuters]
Well, Mr Harverson, there are those of us with far less power and privilege who feel the same way – but our feelings on the matter have been ignored in favour of the creation of a surveillance society (with all its links to the database state) by means – not of paparazzi photographers – but of CCTV cameras. Whilst nobody knows the exact number of cameras in operation in public spaces in Britain (David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, notably suggested “a CCTV camera for every 14 citizens”), there can surely be no disputing the fact that there has been a huge increase in the numbers in recent years. If only the general public could write similar letters to the watchers – and feel confident that our requests would be heeded.
And I don’t want to hear about how public figures “have a right to privacy” simply because they’re public figures – when the rest of us voice our wish to the same rights, we are told that if we’re doing nothing wrong then we have nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to fear from the intrusion. In this much-vaunted democratic society of ours, I can think of no convincing reason why there should be one rule for the wealthy and powerful and another rule for the rest of us.