Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Exposing royal wardrobe malfunctions

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Prince William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, visited the very windy Blue Mountains in Sydney.
Photo / AP
Prince William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, visited the very windy Blue Mountains in Sydney. Photo / AP

There was a right royal kerfuffle back in the early 80s when a young Lady Diana Spencer posed with a couple of children in a flimsy skirt which, thanks to fortuitous back-lighting, showed off her shapely legs. These days it takes much more than the outline of a pair of legs to set the mainstream media and social media alight.

The photograph showing the Duchess of Cambridge at the moment her dress flew up in Australia's Blue Mountains has sparked a furore. The image was published first in Germany and then in an Australian newspaper.

Views are polarised. While some people think it's disrespectful to publish such an shot, others thinks it's naive for a public figure to not take steps to ensure she is not caught out by an errant gust of wind.

As reported in Kate Middleton red-cheeked as Aussie paper is second to publish bare bottom photos, the writer at Sydney's Daily Telegraph said: "If the duchess can't be bothered protecting herself by having hem weights sewn into her garment, why should the media protect her?"

In her comparatively short career as a royal, the Duchess of Cambridge has had a few uh-oh moments in the pages of the world's press. On tour in Canada her yellow dress similarly flew up in the wind. Photographs show it stopped just short of revealing the royal derrière - a fact which can be attributed mainly to good luck rather than good management.

Then, of course, in France a photographer with a long-range lens snapped the Duchess while topless on a villa balcony. It was a long way from the road nonetheless there was (clearly) a direct sightline available from a public space. For the average person that distance should provide sufficient comfort to allow you to throw caution to the wind. But when you're fodder for the international paparazzi, it doesn't seem like the wisest place to dispense with your bikini top.

Perhaps Kate is too young to remember photographers snapping a topless Sarah Ferguson with a toe-sucking Texan - or the Prince of Wales being shot naked at a chateau. Since both these incidents occurred in France, perhaps one could draw the conclusion that this particular country isn't the best place for royals hoping to get their kit off while staying out of the tabloids.

For many people such intrusive photographs bring back memories of how Diana, Princess of Wales was treated by the paparazzi. While she never had the wardrobe malfunctions Kate is fast becoming known for, she was hounded throughout her engagement, marriage, divorce - and, tragically, even in the final moments of her life.

There's some criticism of Kate's attention to detail that day in Australia. She was on a highly publicised overseas tour, on an official engagement, in public, outdoors and surely she knew that cameras would follow her every move. A longer dress, a more fitting dress, trousers, a slip, underwear or weights sewn in the offending hemline were all available options. Yet she didn't seem to have taken any such measures. Perhaps she was inspired by the bare-bottomed Maori warrior she encountered in New Zealand on the same tour.


Prince William and Kate meet a Maori warrior their visit to New Zealand. Photo / AFP

All four parties played a part in this latest regal hoo-ha: the young woman who hasn't quite mastered the art of dressing like a royal, the photographer who took the shot and then sold it, the news organisations who decided to publish it - and a public with a thirst for cheap thrills at someone else's expense.

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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