(LONDON) — A visit to Wimbledon to support her friend, Serena Williams, has turned into a controversy for the Duchess of Sussex.
Duchess Meghan is facing backlash for the tight security that appeared to surround her as she watched Williams play in the second round last Thursday at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Meghan was accompanied at Wimbledon by two of her close friends from the U.S. — Genevieve Hillis and Lindsay Roth. The trio sat in the members’ section of Court 1.
Rows of empty seats surrounded Meghan and her friends, leaving some to speculate the duchess, or her security, requested the extra layer of privacy.
It is not clear whether the empty seats were a request from Buckingham Palace, a demand from Meghan’s security detail or if there were enough empty seats already in the members’ box to accommodate the arrangement.
A representative for the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club told ABC News they “did not know” whether seats in the members’ enclosure were deliberately kept free around the Duchess of Sussex.
They did however explain that reports that members were blocked from entering the members seating while Meghan was there are completely untrue.
Meghan’s seating arrangement is drawing negative comparisons to her sister-in-law, Duchess Kate, who also attended Wimbledon last week but sat among fans on an outside court to watch a British player and visited Wimbledon’s practice courts and warm-up area. Kate is patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Meghan’s security detail also reportedly stopped fans who they thought were taking photos of the duchess, even though the match was televised and attended by thousands of people.
One attendee, Sally Jones, told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph that as she took photos of Williams during the match, a Royal Protection Officer tapped her on the shoulder.
Jones claims the officer asked her, “Would you not take photographs of the Duchess? She’s here in a private capacity.”
Another Wimbledon guest was photographed being spoken to by one of Meghan’s security guards, although it appeared he was taking a selfie and not a photo of Duchess Meghan.
“It’s not unusual for people accompanying members of the royal family at private or public engagements to ask members of the public not to take photographs,” a royal source told ABC News. “This is to enable members of the royal family to properly engage with people and events.”
The backlash over Meghan’s Wimbledon appearance comes as she and Prince Harry are also facing criticism for their decision to keep details of their son Archie’s July 6 christening private.
No coverage was allowed of guests entering the christening ceremony and Harry and Meghan also did not publicly reveal the names of Archie’s godparents. Just two photos from the christening were shared via Harry and Meghan’s Instagram account.
The couple’s seeming quest for privacy is being criticized because of the role British taxpayers pay in financing parts of their lifestyle.
The renovations undertaken by Harry and Meghan to turn Frogmore Cottage in Windsor into their family home came at a price of 2.4 million pounds, or about $3 million, for British taxpayers, according to figures released last month by the Royal Household.
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