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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Princess wins tabloid privacy war
Princess Caroline
Princess Caroline has fought her privacy battle for years
Princess Caroline of Monaco has won a major legal battle over the right of newspapers to publish pictures of her.

The European Court of Human rights said photographs of her and her children should not have been published, even if they were taken in a public place.

It was hailed as a landmark decision which could affect the rights of "paparazzi" photographers elsewhere.

It overturns a German ruling in 1999, which said as a public figure she had to accept being photographed in public.

Three magazines - Bunte, Neue Post and Freizeit Revue - published the pictures, which showed the princess skiing, horse-riding, sitting in a cafe and playing tennis with her husband, Prince Ernst-August of Hanover.

German constitutional judges had said the princess was a "personality from contemporary history", so could not complain about pictures taken of her in a public place.

Every person, however well-known, must be able to enjoy a legitimate hope for the protection of... their private life
Court ruling
But the European judges criticised the German decision.

They said the papers had violated the princess' right to privacy, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Every person, however well-known, must be able to enjoy a legitimate hope for the protection of... their private life," the court said.

"The court considered that the general public did not have a legitimate interest in knowing Caroline von Hannover's whereabouts or how she behaved generally in her private life."

The princess' lawyer, Matthias Prinz, welcomed the ruling and urged a change in German law to reflect a person's right to a private life.

"This is very good for my client and for all people in Europe because the court is raising the standard of protection of private life to a level higher than in Germany - to the level of France," Mr Prinz said.

Possible appeal

The lawyer for Germany, Klaus Stoltenberg, said his government would examine the decision and make a decision later as to whether to appeal. It has three months to decide.

Media lawyers in the UK said the ruling strengthened the case for a privacy law in the UK.

Princess Caroline is the daughter of Prince Rainier of Monaco and film star Grace Kelly.

Her sister Stephanie has also featured frequently in tabloid headlines, most recently over her marriage to a circus acrobat.

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