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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Royals signal tough media action
Prince William and Prince Charles
Prince William was upset by the story about him hunting in Africa
Prince Charles' press director has said the Palace will take a tough line on false media stories about the Royals.

Paddy Harverson was speaking after the Mail on Sunday apologised for saying Prince William had speared an antelope in Africa.

The press chief said parts of the Royal family had traditionally not responded to claims about their private lives.

That approach might have emboldened papers to print stories whether they were right or not, he said.

Pop star's campaign

Mr Harverson was recruited by Clarence House last October.

He said Prince William had been upset by the false story about him hunting in Africa with a Maasai warrior spear, particularly as he had not even been in that part of Kenya at the time.

We do take things seriously and will hold them to account where we feel they are wrong
Paddy Harverson

The reports led one pop star to encourage her fans to start a letter writing campaign to the palace.

Mr Harverson said the decision to take the issue to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) when the newspaper had failed to correct the story had come before he joined Prince Charles staff.

But he hoped people would take notice that the Palace would not accept stories being printed that were wrong.

Beckham comparison

Mr Harverson was previously Manchester United's media boss, handling stories about Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The senior individuals I work for now - Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Camilla Parker Bowles - are regarded by newspapers, by tabloids as celebrities.

"So the treatment is not dissimilar to the way the footballers are being covered.

Paddy Harverson
Harverson is used to handling football stars
"There is plenty of good coverage but there is sadly too much inaccurate coverage.

"Traditionally some parts of the Royal Family felt they just kept heads down and didn't respond to these stories that were inaccurate and I think that may have emboldened some parts of the media to go ahead and write the stuff anyway.

"Now, hopefully, they will understand that we do take things seriously and will hold them to account where we feel they are wrong and have got evidence that they are wrong."

Marriage prospects

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey recently caused controversy by saying he believed Prince Charles should marry Camilla Parker Bowles.

Mr Harverson said the Palace was keeping its view of the comments private.

"Obviously Dr Carey had his views and wanted to have his book publicised and we understand that but we do not particularly want to be drawn into a public debate on the matter," he said.

He laughed when asked whether he would move to correct any newspaper which reported that Prince Charles was about to marry.

"I would not be drawn into such a point at this moment but we will always correct the stories that are wrong, certainly," he went on.

Charity work

Mr Harverson said he was trying to put more focus on the work done by Prince of Wales in supporting the Queen and helping charities.

The local and broadcast media gave good coverage to the prince's work but the national newspapers often concentrated on his private life, he added.

A sign of the tougher attitude being taken by Clarence House came earlier this year when The Sun newspaper was temporarily banned from events featuring Princes William and Harry.

The move came after the newspaper published pictures of Prince William with a female friend.




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