Regulator rules publishing photos of the prince with Meghan Markle on private beach was unjustified intrusion

Prince Harry’s privacy was breached by the Mail Online publishing photographs of him wearing swimming shorts on a private beach in Jamaica, the Independent Press Standards Organisation has ruled.

The prince complained to Ipso, the press watchdog, that the images had been taken “surreptitiously” using a long lens camera while he was not on official duties and abroad for a wedding with his girlfriend, Meghan Markle.

Mail Online ran the photographs of the prince in March under the headline “Time to cool off! Happy (and hunky) Prince Harry enjoys a dip in the ocean as he and Meghan relax on the beach in Jamaica after his ‘wingman’s’ sun-drenched wedding”.

An Ipso committee ruled that it was unacceptable to publish the photos of the prince without any public interest and that it represented “a significant and unjustified intrusion”. It said the photograph had been taken from between 700 and 800 yards away and that Prince Harry was unaware he was being photographed.

Mail Online has been ordered to publish Ipso’s ruling on the top fifth of its homepage and for the ruling to remain on the homepage for 24 hours. The watchdog initially said Mail Online could publish the ruling anywhere on its homepage, but this changed after Prince Harry “suggested” to Ipso that it should consider making the publication place it as one of the top three articles on its homepage, given the original article had appeared at the top.

In its ruling, which upheld Prince Harry’s complaint about a breach of privacy, Ipso said: “The complainant had been photographed during his leisure time on a private beach at a private resort. Indeed, the article itself stated that the complainant was staying at a private resort.

“While other guests may have been present at the time, the complainant was not carrying out official duties, and he was unaware that he was being photographed by the photographer who was positioned between 700 and 800 yards away, and had used a long lens camera.

“The committee did not accept that the complainant could have been seen by members of the public outside the resort at this distance.”

Mail Online, which is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust, told Ipso it had been provided with “credible information” that Prince Harry had been on a public beach and there was nothing in the “innocuous” photographs so suggest it was a private beach. It also also said that the prince’s attendance in Jamaica for the wedding of his friend Tom Inskip had been widely reported and that it had not considered that there were “wider indications” that the photographs – which were also published in the US and in a UK magazine – would raise concerns.

However, Mail Online said it was “unfortunate and regrettable” that it had been misinformed about the prince being on a public beach. It denied claims from the prince that it had not responded promptly to his complaint, stating that it removed the images from its website and apologised once the facts had been established with the photographer.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said: “We are pleased the matter is now resolved.”

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