The British royal family on Friday sued a French magazine for publishing topless pictures of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, taken during a private holiday with her husband Prince William in the south of France.
A royal spokesman called it a “grotesque and unjustifiable invasion of privacy” reminiscent of “the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales,” who died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997 while being chased by photographers.
Confirming that “legal proceedings for breach of privacy” were launched against Closer magazine that published the pictures, he said: “Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.”
The Prime Minister’s Office also waded into the row, saying: “The view from Downing Street is that they are entitled to their privacy.”
The magazine claimed that the couple were “visible from the street” and the images “weren’t in the least shocking.”
Describing the British reaction as a “little disproportionate,” its editor, Laurence Pieau, said the photos showed “a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches.”
“What we saw in the pictures was a young couple that have just got married, who are in love, who are beautiful. She’s a princess of the 21st Century…They [the couple] are on the terrace of a mansion in the south of France, which isn’t far from a road along which cars pass without any problem. They are visible from the street,” she said.
The BBC’s Paris correspondent said the photos, spread across four pages, were “blurry.” On its website, the magazine reportedly described the couple “like you have never seen them before. Gone are the fixed smiles and the demure dresses. On holiday, Kate forgets everything.”
Several British tabloids claimed they were also offered the pictures but they declined.
The Mirror and Sunday Mirror said they were offered pictures of the Duchess in her bikini a week ago, but they decided not to publish them, as they believed that it would be a breach of the editors’ code of practice.
The Sun, which attracted criticism for publishing nude pictures of Prince Harry recently, said it had no intention of breaching the royal couple’s privacy.