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Privacy nonexistent in 21st century

Privacy nonexistent in 21st century (credit: Chloe Chia/) Privacy nonexistent in 21st century (credit: Chloe Chia/)
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This month, another royal scandal hit the papers. This time, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, caught the media’s eye while she and her husband, Prince William, were vacationing in France. A photograph of the former Ms. Middleton sunbathing topless appeared in the French version of the magazine Closer, taken while the couple were staying in a private villa.

The royal family sued the French magazine and won; the magazine is no longer allowed to publish the photographs, under threat of heavy fines.

Of course, once this scandal became news, everyone had an opinion to offer. They ranged from Donald Trump’s totally unsympathetic statement via Twitter, “Kate Middleton is great — but she shouldn’t be sunbathing in the nude — only herself to blame,” to the unrealistic statement by Rosa Monckton, a friend of William’s late mother, who pleaded “leave Kate alone” via Twitter.

The Duchess and Duke have a right to their privacy, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get it. If the Duchess of Cambridge wants to take her shirt off while sunbathing with her husband, that’s her choice, but her decision will have consequences. The amount of effort people put into knowing every single detail about her life, and the lives of celebrities in general, is ridiculous. Unfortunately, it’s the level of obsession that comes with being a public figure.

Before Middleton’s marriage, the situation might have been different, but she married into one of the only royal families still prominent and active in the social world. She was the girl next door who married a prince. That’s the stuff from which Disney has made millions of dollars, so the story has a certain appeal. No one ever mentions the crazed paparazzi lurking at the end of your driveway after the nuptials are over, but hey, Disney’s only got two hours to work with.

The problem with living in such a media-dependent world is that nothing ever goes away. The Duchess learned that lesson the hard way this month; her brother-in-law Prince Harry learned it too, at a party in Las Vegas in August. What happens in Vegas definitely does not stay in Vegas, a private French villa is never completely private, and once something gets on the internet, it will never disappear. This is a lesson that applies to more than just the royal families of the world: college students would do well to remember it too. In a world where everyone and his mother has a smartphone, every minute has the potential to be caught on film.

Once those pictures hit the internet, there’s no going back. Right now, it may seem like a brilliant idea to post pictures of yourself drunk, smoking weed, or making out with your significant other. But what about when a company you want an internship with checks your Facebook? Or a potential employer investigates your Twitter? The internet is a public place, and people are going to be watching, regardless of your royal status.