Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take legal action over topless photos

20:16 14 September 2012

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge depart Kuala Lumpur airport for Sabah Maylasia as news emerges they are taking legal action against a magazine which published topless pictures of Catherine. Picture: Arthur Edwards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge depart Kuala Lumpur airport for Sabah Maylasia as news emerges they are taking legal action against a magazine which published topless pictures of Catherine. Picture: Arthur Edwards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have launched legal proceedings against a French magazine to stop it reprinting pictures of Catherine topless.

Closer magazine in France today printed the shots of the Duchess, taken when she was on holiday with Prince William at a chateau owned by the Queen’s nephew Lord Linley in Provence last week.

Publication of the pictures was compared by St James’s Palace to the worst experiences of Diana, Princess of Wales at the hands of the paparazzi. The action was described as a “grotesque and totally unjustifiable” invasion of privacy.

Tonight the palace announced that lawyers would be pursuing the matter through the French courts. It is understood that the royal couple’s aim is to prevent further use of the images and to seek damages.

In a statement, the palace said: “St James’s Palace confirms that legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge against the publishers of Closer Magazine France.”

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for the royal couple, with a source close to Prime Minister David Cameron saying that Number 10 “echoes the sadness of the palace” over the publication of the pictures.

In a statement released this morning St James’s Palace said: “Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner.

“The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so.

“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.

“Officials acting on behalf of their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to the Duke and Duchess.”

Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer in Frnace, was unrepentant, defending her decision to publish the pictures during an interview with the French radio station Europe 1, insisting there was “nothing degrading” about the photographs and claiming she could not understand the couple’s reaction.

She also told the AFP news agency: “These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches.”

News of the pictures broke as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were midway through a tour of south east Asia as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The royal couple had spent the day in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur completing a busy schedule of events which saw them break new ground by visiting a mosque for the first time.

They later left the mainland and flew to Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah on Borneo, and tomorrow will travel to the region’s dramatic rainforest to learn about the wildlife - something that is likely to be a welcome relief from the events of today.

Publishers of the UK edition of Closer distanced themselves from the French magazine.

Chief executive Paul Keenan of Bauer Media said his company deplored the publication of the “intrusive and offensive pictures” and had “complained in the strongest terms” to the firm which licensed the title in France.

He said Bauer had asked Closer France to remove the pictures and refrain from publishing any more.

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