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Harry and Meghan Get an Apology After Suing Paparazzi

LOS ANGELES — The case of the unauthorized backyard photographs of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor has been solved. And the legal outcome, unveiled on Thursday by his parents, Prince Harry and Meghan, has left one of Hollywood’s biggest paparazzi agencies with its tail between its legs.

In July, the couple filed an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit over photographs taken with a drone and zoom cameras of the 14-month-old Archie as he played with his maternal grandmother in their backyard. At the time, the family was staying at a secluded estate in Beverly Hills owned by the entertainment mogul Tyler Perry. They did not name the defendants in the lawsuit because they did not know who they were.

The filing allowed their lawyer, Michael J. Kump, to send fact-finding subpoenas to the three biggest celebrity news agencies in Los Angeles: Backgrid, Splash News and X17.

The culprit turned out to be X17, which, according to a settlement agreement filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, has agreed to turn over the photos to the family, destroy any copies in its archives or databases and never again traffic in any photos of the couple or their son taken by similar means “in any private residence or the surrounding private grounds.”

X17 will also pay a portion of the family’s legal fees, according to Mr. Kump.

In blunt terms, Harry and Meghan, who have clashed repeatedly with the British news media over privacy concerns, sent a stark message to American paparazzi agencies with the case: You come after us, and we will come after you.

“We apologize to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son for the distress we have caused,” X17 said in a statement. “We were wrong to offer these photographs and commit to not doing so again.”

Mr. Kump said in a statement, “All families have a right, protected by law, to feel safe and secure at home.”

The couple, who resettled in California this year after a dramatic decampment from the House of Windsor, sued under a so-called paparazzi law, by which a person can be held liable civilly for intruding airspace to take photographs of a person on private property. The law was enacted in 1998 and last updated in 2015. It also covers wild driving by celebrity photographers while stalking their subjects — the kind of behavior that bedeviled Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997 after her sedan crashed while trying to escape paparazzi on motorcycles.

Harry and Meghan — beloved by millions of fans, who see them as daring and modern, and vilified by an equally vehement faction that sees their tradition-spurning actions as unbecoming — have taken an unusually hard-line approach with the tabloid news media. In April, complaining of “an economy of click bait and distortion” and coverage that was “distorted, false and invasive beyond reason,” they told four leading British tabloid publishers that they would no longer deal with them. Meghan has sued the publisher of The Mail on Sunday, the sister paper of The Daily Mail, for publishing a private letter that she had sent to her estranged father in 2018. Another lawsuit, aimed at Splash News, involves photographs that were taken of Meghan and Archie this year in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In the X17 case, Harry and Meghan discovered that someone was shopping photos of their son to outlets around the world and had claimed they had been taken in public, according to the complaint, which noted that Archie had not been in public since the family arrived in Southern California. The photographs were published in the German magazine Bunte. Lawyers for the couple were able to move quickly enough to prevent their publication in the United States and Britain, however.

“Some paparazzi and media outlets have flown drones a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence (some of which have been sold and published),” the lawsuit said. “Others have flown helicopters above the backyard of the residence, as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m., waking neighbors and their son, day after day. And still others have even cut holes in the security fence itself to peer through it.”

X17, owned by François Navarre and his wife, Brandy, describes itself on its website as “Hollywood’s leading celebrity photo agency, servicing tens of thousands of media outlets around the world with our high quality photos and videos.” Variety magazine has characterized the operation as “a veritable spider web of photographers and undercover informants.” In 2003, Mr. Navarre had to pay Jennifer Aniston $550,000 to settle an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit over photos of her sunbathing topless in her backyard.

“Yeah, sure, it’s always a question of private life versus public life,” Mr. Navarre told The Los Angeles Times in 2007. “But you have an easy way to escape that. Get out of Los Angeles.”

In August, Harry and Meghan did just that, moving from Mr. Perry’s home in Beverly Hills to one in Montecito, an oceanside enclave about an hour northwest of Malibu. The couple bought the seven-acre estate for $14.7 million. It is gated and shrouded by trees.

The paparazzi helicopters have followed.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Sign Megawatt Netflix Deal

LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, having resettled in California, on Wednesday unveiled new Hollywood careers.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have founded a yet-to-be-named production company and signed a multiyear deal with Netflix, which will pay them to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming — giving the couple a global platform six months after their dramatic decampment from the House of Windsor.

Harry and Meghan may appear on camera in documentary programming. But she has repeatedly made it clear that she has no plans to return to acting, having last appeared in the cable drama “Suits,” which concluded its run in 2019. Their content will be exclusive to Netflix.

“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.” They added that Netflix’s “unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action.” Netflix has 193 million subscribers worldwide.

It is unclear how much Harry and Meghan will be paid, given their lack of producing experience. A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment.

The streaming service, however, is known for backing up Brink’s trucks when it wants to be in business with high-profile people, particularly when other entertainment companies also want their services. In recent months, Harry and Meghan have quietly talked with Disney and Apple. Variety reported earlier this month that they had met with NBCUniversal.

The couple has been living in the Los Angeles area since March, staying for a time at a Beverly Hills mansion owned by Tyler Perry. They soon filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against tabloid photographers, saying that paparazzi had flown drones overhead in an extreme effort to capture images of their son, Archie, who turned one in May. Harry, 35, and Meghan, 39, have since bought a $14.7 million home in Montecito, an affluent town located about an hour north of Malibu that is also home to Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

“We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home and are excited about telling stories with them that can help build resilience and increase understanding for audiences everywhere,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-chief executive and chief content officer, said in a statement.

Netflix is under pressure to keep its content pipelines flowing as it competes for viewers with Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock and the traditional broadcast networks. Family programming is particularly important to Netflix, and Harry and Meghan already have an animated series in development which is focused on inspiring women. Last week, Netflix released “Rising Phoenix,” a documentary about the Paralympic Games; Harry, who founded the Invictus Games for wounded veterans, appears in the film.

Content centered on social messages — racial justice, gender equity, mental well-being, environmental stewardship has been hot in Hollywood for some time, and Netflix and Participant Media, founded by the eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll, have been at the center. Participant and Netflix backed Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed 2019 mini-series “When They See Us,” which depicted the excruciating toll that persecution and incarceration had on the teenage boys known as the Central Park Five. In 2018, Netflix struck a deal with Barack and Michelle Obama to produce shows and films. That partnership in March yielded “Crip Camp,” a feel-good documentary about the origins of the disability rights movement that is an early favorite to win the 2021 Oscar for best nonfiction film.

Meghan and Harry, the second son of Prince Charles, abruptly announced in January that they planned to step back from their royal duties, seek financial independence and spend part of the year living in North America. It triggered the most serious crisis for the British royal family since the death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in 1997. The news media labeled the fracas Megxit.

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Credit…Neil Munns/EPA, via Shutterstock

After emotionally charged negotiations, Queen Elizabeth II granted the couple’s wishes in return for their agreeing not to use their most exalted titles, His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness. The couple also agreed to give up public funding — setting off a tabloid guessing game about how they would finance their lifestyle, including paying for security.

Harry and Meghan used to draw some income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a hereditary estate owned by Prince Charles, but that ended with their departure from Britain. Harry also inherited several million dollars from his late mother. Before their 2018 marriage, Meghan, then Meghan Markle, worked as an actress in “Suits.”

The couple’s production company will operate independently from their charitable foundation, which is called Archewell. The couple shut down their previous philanthropic endeavor, SussexRoyal, in March after they agreed to stop using the term “royal” for commercial or charitable activities.

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When the Prince of Wales Is Your Landlord

NEWQUAY, England — People who move to Nansledan, a new residential community in the southwestern corner of England, must abide by certain rules.

Homes and doors can be painted only certain colors, including pastel pink and eggshell blue. Local businesses are welcome to set up shop, but no fast-food chains, please. And don’t think of tampering with the dime-size holes in some of the bricks outside the houses: They are there to make homes for bees.

Also, don’t be surprised if you see Charles, the Prince of Wales, strolling down the street, admiring what he has wrought.

Nansledan, which will eventually have about 4,000 homes, could be the most ambitious project undertaken in the 700 years of the Duchy of Cornwall, the patchwork of properties spread across England, covering more than 200 square miles, that provides an income to the Prince of Wales.

A dukedom within a kingdom, the duchy was created in 1337 by Edward III for his eldest son, Prince Edward (known after his death as the Black Prince, perhaps because of the color of his armor). Prince Edward became the first Duke of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales, but he was never king — he died, probably of an illness, at age 45 while his father was still on the throne.

Most of the time since then, the duchy has passed to the eldest surviving son of the monarch, who is also heir to the throne and holds the title of the Duke of Cornwall.

Since 1952, that has been Prince Charles. At age 71, he has been in charge of the duchy longer than anyone before him (thanks to his mother, still reigning at age 93).

The duchy, which receives rent from tenants that include farmers, homeowners and shopping centers, earned 21 million pounds, or about $28 million, for the year that ended in March 2019, and Charles shared some of that income with his two sons and their families.

That has become a sticking point lately. It’s unclear if duchy money will continue to help pay the bills for the prince’s younger son, Harry, and his wife, Meghan, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who recently caused a royal earthquake when they said they would separate themselves from their traditional duties and move to North America for part of the year.

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Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

On a recent visit, few locals in Newquay, the seaside town adjacent to Nansledan, said they paid much attention to the fact that tracts of land around them were providing money for Harry and Meghan.

“That connection doesn’t matter,” said Steph Maclaren, an artist. “They don’t have a bearing on anyone.”

Ask residents about the duchy’s big housing development, and they often respond with blank looks. “It just appeared” is a common response.

The Duchy of Cornwall is often portrayed as a collection of picturesque organic farms with rushing streams. But it is also a vast real estate holding company, with properties including Dartmoor Prison and a home improvement superstore in Milton Keynes, a town north of London.

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Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times
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Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

Nansledan, the duchy says, has been inspired by Prince Charles’s philosophy on architecture and the environment. The prince is outspoken in his support for traditional housing styles and sustainable development.

In a treatise titled “Housing Britain: A Call to Action,” the prince has written, “We must demand better places that break the stranglehold of the conventional mold of monocultural housing estates and zoned developments that, up to now, have put the car at the center of the design process and not the pedestrian and thereby created an increasingly unsustainable environment.”

The streets of Nansledan are angled to discourage drivers from speeding, and the layout is intended to allow residents to reach shops and schools without having to drive. Marketplaces, plazas and nature reserves have been built in for residents. Houses have bird boxes constructed into their walls to encourage nesting, and the gardens have communal orchards.

Alex Eley said she jumped at the opportunity to set up shop there in October 2018 because she thought the Duchy of Cornwall would be supportive toward her catering business, which limits plastic and uses local products. Prince Charles made the duchy’s own farm entirely organic more than 30 years ago, and he has separately set up the Duchy Originals brand, which sells organic food. He spoke about the topic of sustainability at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

“We’re shouting and preaching from the same hymnbook,” Ms. Eley said.

When the duchy first tested the prince’s architectural principles in Poundbury, a village on the southern coast of England, it was ridiculed by some as a “feudal Disneyland.” But it flourished enough to lead to another test, on Tregunnel Hill in Newquay, and then to Nansledan, a 540-acre site that will eventually have almost twice as many homes as Poundbury. (Residents own their houses, but the land underneath belongs to the duchy.)

As environmental concerns have become mainstream, the prince and his ethos of sustainability and long-term stewardship of the land have attracted less criticism, something he notes in his housing essay.

Although Poundbury was “derided by many at the time,” the prince wrote, “I am heartened that both the duchy’s and my foundation’s work is now gaining approval and shifting the tide of opinion.”

Residents and businesses who have moved to Nansledan (the name means broad valley in Cornish) are enthusiastic about their choice. They have already agreed to the rules of life on a duchy estate, including the requirement that residents wanting to change the color of their house or door must apply for permission from the duchy and conform to tints reminiscent of fishing cottages on the coast.

Buying a house in the development is like joining a club, said Tracey Nicholas, the project administrator for the Duchy of Cornwall in Nansledan. “These are the rules,” she said, flipping through the color charts.

And the rules that come with living on duchy-owned land are part of the attraction for some residents.

“You have to buy into that,” said Aaron Smith, a florist who moved from Staffordshire, about 275 miles away, to set up home and shop in Nansledan with his partner, Matt Drohan, six weeks ago.

“It can seem quite controlling,” Mr. Smith said, but he loves the “cookie-cutter feel” of the place, joking that he aspired to be like Bree Van de Kamp, the uptight perfectionist in the American television series “Desperate Housewives.”

Residents’ commitment to the community has helped with maintenance, too. The site has had problems with dog poop being left out and construction materials blowing away from the building sites by high coastal winds. So Mr. Smith organized a group to go litter picking that has been nicknamed Team Sparkle.

“It’s perfect,” Mr. Smith said with evident pride. “It’s so safe because everybody is watching.”

Mr. Smith is also a staunch royalist — it was the Duchy of Cornwall name that drew him to take a look at the development while on holiday.

To him, the royal family can do no wrong. Harry will be a “people’s prince, like Diana,” even if he moves away, Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Drohan is equally sympathetic. “You can’t blame them, the way they treat them,” he said of the tabloids. “To be fair to Meghan, they are dreadful.”

Life in the community, where a four-bedroom home goes for about £400,000, is not without small frustrations. There is, for example, an issue with a pizza van.

The van would arrive on Fridays, park in the neighborhood and sell pizzas baked in its wood-fired oven. It attracted quite a few customers, apparently, but a homeowner eventually complained. The duchy discussed matters with the van’s owner. The result: no more visits from the pizza van.

Residents who liked the van are “up in arms,” Mr. Smith said, and don’t want Friday-night pizzas to end. It is being discussed on the residents’ Facebook page. One resident approached the florists to discuss alternative parking spots for the van. A teenager getting his hair cut at the Nansledan barbershop said he hoped he would be able to take advantage of the van one last time.

Danny Murphy, who opened the barbershop almost two years ago, has had his own run-in with the rules. He wants to put up a single barber pole, but the duchy has stipulated that he must have two poles and that they must be just red and white.

“They’re quite funny about what they want here,” Mr. Murphy said.

His fellow barber, Max Hoar, shrugged: “What they say goes.”