The public appearance to the heir to the British throne and his girlfriend with whom he broke up after rumors of impending nuptials was inevitably bound (if not designed) to create a flurry of publicity, especially occurring at the time of a public inquiry into the accident that claimed his mother's life.
Ten years after Princess Diana's death, Prince William and his girlfriend were also hounded by photographers. The flash guns that hit them invoked an instant recall of photographers hounding Princess Diana and her boyfriend as they made a fateful mad dash, pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes.
But this time, something was different
As CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports from London, the striking difference this time is that no one tried to follow the couple once they were in their car.
The incident rekindled a debate about how much privacy the royal family should be given.
Some British newspapers declined to publish the photos of the smiling Kate Middleton and what one report discreetly called "a distinctly over-refreshed Prince William," choosing file photos to illustrate their reports instead.
The growing number of editors and the public are adopting the view that even royals and celebrities have a right to some privacy, and the Princess Diana inquest has brought the issue of the consequences into sharp focus.
The fact that the couple chose to make their first public appearance since a much-reported break-up several months ago at the nightclub gives the impression they were in fact seeking the publicity.
Patrick Jephson, a former aide to Princess Diana, told CBS' Saturday Early Show that there were eerie similarities between the coverage of Prince William and that fateful night in Paris, but thought the paparazzi's pursuit was less aggressive.
"The footage that I've been shown actually doesn't show anybody setting off in pursuit of Prince William's car. The spokesman is very careful to say that William expects to be photographed going in and out of night clubs [but] does not expect to be pursued by people on foot, or in vehicles or motorcycles, which he says is very dangerous.
"However, there are those who are perhaps rather cynically thinking this is William's press spokesman trying to encourage a bit of favorable publicity for more tight privacy laws here in England."
Jephson felt the public is more sensitive given the current news about the Princess Diana inquiry. "The inquest has been headline news all this week and shows no sign of becoming less important during the next few months. So if you were going to make a point about press relations with the royal family, now is the time to do it."
Pizzey said, as much as newspapers and magazines are accused of exploiting the rich, royal or famous, they're only news if the public is willing to pay good money to read about them.
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.