Shove off Prince Harry, now Norway's teen royal in fresh photo uproar

Blue-blood's Instagram splurge sparks tabloid row


Blighty's playboy Prince Harry isn't the only royal hitting tabloid headlines for inappropriate snaps: Norway's monarchy has defended one of its own blue-blooded teens after his web photo uploading spree supposedly sparked a security scare.

Marius Borg Høiby, 15, took photographs while on holiday and published them using a personal Instagram account, Norwegian mass-market newspaper VG reports. The pictures included GPS information pinpointing the location of royal relatives in near real-time, a potentially significant security lapse.

Høiby, the son of Crown Princess Mette-Marit from an earlier relationship prior to her marriage to Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, openly shared more than 100 images from a publicly accessible account for more than a year, allowing citizens to get an insight into the secret life of the Norwegian royal family.

The snaps showed Høiby and his family in Oslo among other places they visited - a far cry from the blurry images that emerged this week of a naked Prince Harry revelling in a Las Vegas hotel.

However, perhaps more seriously Høiby also divulged information about his family's upcoming sensitive travel plans. Høiby is half brother to Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus, heirs to the Norwegian throne, but is not himself a prince.

Norway's police intelligence unit, the Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste (PST), is under fire for failing to inform the royal family about the potential drawbacks of sharing too much info on social networks.

However, yesterday the monarchy issued a robust defence of the teenager's actions, according to local reports. In an open letter to VG editor Torry Pedersen, Crown Princess Mette-Marit questioned the uproar over the photos, pointing out that the family's residences and trips are a matter of public record. She added that the offending Instagram account had been cancelled, a sly admission that revealing a live feed of the royal family's exact whereabouts was perhaps not the best idea.

Location tagging is a common feature of the latest digital cameras and smartphones. The GPS coordinates embedded in the photo's metadata can be easily read from files uploaded to the web, assuming the image hosting service doesn't strip out said information. The US and British armed forces have imposed restrictions on the use of mobile phones in war zones because of the danger that geo-tags might easily give away the location of soldiers.

More commentary on the information security aspects of the incident can be found in a blog post by web security firm Sophos here.

The royal geo-tagging rumpus, which fuelled a debate about the Norwegian government’s attitudes about public safety, was overshadowed by today's court ruling that Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Oslo and the island of Utøya, was sane when he carried out the atrocity in July 2011. He was jailed for 21 years but could be kept behind bars for longer if he poses a threat to society. ®

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