English

Media Code on protecting the privacy of members of the Royal House

The  Netherlands Government Information Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst),

Considering,

  • that the right to protection of privacy and the related right to respect for private and family life applies to all persons, and hence likewise applies to members of the Royal House;
  • that the press and other media ("the media") fulfil an essential role in a democratic society, which is expressed inter alia in the right to freedom of expression, which, like the right to respect for family life, is laid down in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  • that these two rights also apply to relations between the media and members of the Royal House;
  • that neither right takes precedence over the other, and that the exercise of one fundamental right (e.g. the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to gather information) does not in itself justify violating another fundamental right (e.g. the right to protection of privacy);
  • that the right to protection of privacy may only be infringed if there is some legally adequate justification for it;
  • that on the basis of case law handed down by Dutch and European courts, it must be assumed that the right to be left in peace prevails over the unrestricted right to publish photographs of, or articles about, public figures if the gathering of information or publication relates to acts and behaviour belonging entirely to people's private lives, if such publication does not make any contribution to public debate, or if the information has been obtained in a manner that will inevitably be experienced as intrusive;
  • that it can be inferred from the aforementioned case law that obtaining information in an intrusive manner about the private acts and behaviour of public figures in public thoroughfares or publicly accessible places may be regarded in principle as forbidden;
  • that it can also be inferred from the aforementioned case law that the precedence of the right to protection of privacy applies pre-eminently to public figures who hold no official position;
  • that the code cited below applies to the gathering of information leading to reports on members of the Royal House - whether in writing or in words and images - when they are not performing their official duties;
  • that compliance with this code can help provide appropriate news on members of the Royal House;
  • that members of the media acting in accordance with the code cited below can be invited to attend all media opportunities organised by the RVD concerning members of the Royal House, which may be provided with a certain regularity during holidays, and at other events and occasions belonging to their private lives;

Establishes herewith the following Code of Conduct in relations with representatives of the media:

  1. The Netherlands Government Information Service (RVD) will organise and announce media opportunities, and will specify pooling arrangements where necessary.
  2. In addition to these media opportunities, the RVD will regularly arrange for information to be supplied to the media by means of interviews, visual material, press releases and the website www.koninklijkhuis.nl.
  3. The private lives of members of the Royal House will be respected; that is, they may be confident of being left in peace at times when they are not appearing publicly in one of their official positions. This provision therefore also applies to the members of the Royal House who are still minors (up to and including their years at school and any further periods of education).
  4. The phrase 'left in peace' means in particular that members of the Royal House will be spared the nuisance of photographers and/or reporters pursuing or spying on them with the aim of taking photographs and/or provoking verbal responses.
  5. Any publication must always take account of the security of members of the Royal House (e.g. car registration numbers should be made illegible in pictures) and the privacy of any third parties (e.g. friends/acquaintances not identifiable in pictures) who may be accompanying a member of the Royal House.
  6. The provisions laid down in points 3 to 5 inclusive of the Code also apply to the publication of visual material originating from third parties.

And further declares:

that appropriate measures may be taken if this Code, or any part of it, is violated by a representative of the media in the opinion of the member of the Royal House concerned;

that appropriate measures may entail exclusion, whether permanent or temporary, from accreditation and legal action by the member of the Royal House whose interests are affected.

Government Information Service, 21 June 2005.