Kate Middleton is likely enjoying some downtime after her whirlwind tour of Asia, a nine-day trip that unceremoniously coincided with European tabloids publishing topless photos of her. (At least her fabulous outfits distracted from the pixelated work of a French paparazzo’s telephoto lens.)
Perhaps she can take heart that she’s in good company. At the second annual Fashion 4 Development lunch in New York Tuesday, which included presentations from emerging designers in Africa and Indonesia, first ladies and dignitaries spoke with ABCNews.com about the increasingly annoying presence of paparazzi in their countries. They also had advice for the recently crowned Duchess of Cambridge.
“Paparazzi do not make your life easy,” said Evelin Ilves, the first lady of Estonia. “But all of our paparazzi are not that nasty, like yours. They don’t respect [privacy], but they don’t have enough power and money to deal with your privacy all the time.”
“The worst thing,” she said, “is that they are interested in your children,” like her 9-year-old daughter. “It’s really bad.”
“Sometimes they catch even me unawares,” said Toyin Ojora Saraki, the former first lady of Nigeria’s Kwara state. “But I try not to take it to heart. Sometimes you’re thrust into the public eye, and you just have to accept that that’s the way it is.”
Saraki said she admired Middleton, a “wonderful girl” who “appears to have lovely manners.” ”She’s a nice role model for young girls,” she said. “There will be pressures and there will be challenges, but she will overcome.”
Last week, the royal family won its lawsuit against the French magazine Closer, the first to print photos of Middleton sunbathing topless. There’s still the possibility of other lawsuits against publications in Italy and Ireland that also printed the photos.
And then there’s the fact that even though Closer has to pay Middleton tens of thousands of dollars in damages, it was probably offset by the uptick in publicity and increase in magazine sales the magazine saw the week that Middleton was on the cover, according to a lawyer who spoke to the Associated Press.
So Christine Kaseba Sata, the first lady of Zambia, suggested a different approach.
“It has to do with your minds as well,” she said. “I would love a situation where the media started getting interested in Africa. There’s a lot that we can actually offer, but I guess the news does not sell.”