In Los Angeles, paparazzi aren’t on Will and Kate’s itinerary
It has all the makings of a tabloid train wreck.
William and Catherine, the stylish royal newlyweds, arrive Friday in Los Angeles, home to an aggressive pack of paparazzi often accused of stalking celebrities and even taking part in high-speed pursuits in search of that perfect shot.
But for a variety of reasons both logistical and economic, law enforcement officials and some Hollywood photo agencies say it’s going to be difficult for the paparazzi to give the royal couple the Britney Spears treatment.
For one thing, the visit is a highly choreographed affair, with very few opportunities for the public to see, let alone interact with, the couple. There will be plenty of photographers capturing their arrival and exits as well as their photo opportunities at such places as a children’s center on downtown L.A.'s skid row and polo grounds near Santa Barbara.
But the paparazzi will have difficulty getting the kind of intimate, unstaged shots that get the big money.
“I cannot for the life of me imagine them walking down Melrose to go shopping,” said Stewart Cook, a longtime photographer for British newspapers. “It’s not going to happen. I would be stunned if anyone would go to the expense or the trouble to rent a house or hide in a tree for days [for a picture]. If [the couple] rented a private island and there was no pool media access, people might try it. But not this one.”
Frank Griffin, a veteran photographer and head of the BauerGriffin agency, agreed. “The whole tour is well orchestrated and planned out from start to finish with between 50 and 200 photographers snapping away. There is no picture to get that is worth the trouble of trying.”
Trip organizers and the Los Angeles Police Department are trying to make sure of it. The LAPD plans to close down streets around each of the places the duke and duchess of Cambridge will visit.
Police are also trying a new tactic: Officers secured “trespass- prohibited letters” from people who live in seven homes around the Hancock Park residence of the British consul-general, where the couple are scheduled to spend the night Friday and Saturday.
Interlopers can be arrested on the spot if police see them lining up their lenses on those properties.
Some tabloids have already made lucrative offers to residents but have not gotten any takers in the immediate area where the royal couple are staying, said LAPD spokeswoman Mitzi Fierro said.
“If they trespass on property where we have a signed trespass letter, they will be arrested immediately,” she said.
The British ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, said Thursday that he would not be surprised if throngs of onlookers tried to get a glimpse of the couple at their various stops in L.A.
“There’s a lot of local interest in L.A. and in Southern California in their visit, so I think they’re going to get a warm welcome,” he said, later adding, “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of interest and people will come to the venues that they’re at to try and get a glimpse of them. I’m sure a lot of people will see them one way or another in the course of the next few days.”
Hundreds of journalists have been credentialed to cover events William and Catherine will attend. But the LAPD is trying to make it as hard as possible for photographers — and others — without proper authorization to get anywhere close to the couple.
June Street around the consul-general’s residence will be closed to all traffic other than residents and their visitors between 4th and 6th streets on Friday night through Sunday.
On Saturday evening, the couple will attend a black-tie dinner and reception hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts — of which William is president — at the recently renovated Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The LAPD plans to close 11th Street between Broadway and Grand Avenue and Hill Street between 12th Street and Olympic Boulevard.
On Sunday, William and Catherine will visit the Inner-City Arts school on skid row, resulting in the closure of Kohler Street between 7th and 8th streets.
The U.S. State Department is in charge of coordinating logistics and security for the visit. The California Highway Patrol will whisk the couple around.
“We have a tough job here. We have to ensure public safety and the safety of our royal guests, while at the same time minimizing the impact,” said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith. “We expect everyone, public and paparazzi alike, to behave in a safe and lawful manner, and we will have a sufficient number of police on hand to quickly deal with those who don’t.”
William and Catherine’s visit to Canada over the last week generated huge interest, with an estimated 300,000 people coming out to see the couple in Ottawa on July 1, Canada Day.
Yet despite the public frenzy, the press has been fairly restrained on the North American trip so far, said Stephen Bates, a senior correspondent specializing in writing about the monarchy for the Guardian,
Bates said one reason is that the tour has been an “intense and highly over-organized media event.”
“The tour has been run like a military operation. Everything is accounted for, down to the last second,” said Katie Nicholl, royal editor of the Mail on Sunday and the author of “The Making of a Royal Romance.” “It’s very regimented, very controlled, but the public has been given a lot of access to them.”
Still, British journalists are interested to see how William and Catherine will be treated in the capital of celebrity culture and celebrity press. He said the British paparazzi have generally backed off the royal family since the 1997 death of Princess Diana, William’s mother, who was killed in a car accident while being chased by photographers.
“Things have changed a lot since the Diana period. Certainly the British media is much more restrained and has a lot less to go on than in the 1980s, when it was a very public train wreck of a marriage with both participants doing their part to sustain the soap opera,” Bates said, referring to the turbulent marriage and high-profile divorce of Diana and Prince Charles. “It’s much more discreet than it was. Much less frenetic.”
Veteran L.A. paparazzi say photographers would eagerly stake out the royal couple — if they believed they had a chance at a good shot. But they think some of the security measures are overkill.
“I think the LAPD wants to justify their existence by acting as though this is the second arrival of Posh and David Beckham, times 10,” Griffin said.
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