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More “unjustifiable upset” will be caused to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge if an Italian magazine goes ahead with printing intimate photographs of the couple on holiday, St James’s Palace warned today.

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Gossip magazine Chi is understood to be planning a 26-page photo special of the pair sunbathing in the south of France, to run in an edition next week.

The palace described the publication of topless photos of the Duchess in French magazine Closer yesterday as a “grotesque and totally unjustifiable” invasion of privacy. The photos were taken while Catherine was on holiday with Prince William in a chateau in Provence owned by the Queen’s nephew Lord Linley.

Following the publication of the pictures it was announced the royal couple will sue its publishers, but unconfirmed reports said Chi still planned to print the images.

A spokeswoman for St James’s Palace said: “We will not be commenting on potential legal action concerning the alleged intended publication of the photos in Italy save to say that all proportionate responses will be kept under review.

“Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative’s home.”

Both Chi and the French edition of Closer are published by the Mondadori media group, which is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Chi magazine’s editor Alfonso Signorini said: “The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical.

“This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love.”

St James’s Palace said the royal couple would not let the controversy distract them as they continued their Diamond Jubilee tour of south east Asia and the South Pacific.

They spent yesterday in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur completing a busy schedule of events including 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 today will travel to the region’s dramatic rainforest to learn about the wildlife - something that is likely to be a welcome relief from the distressing events.

Last night 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 short statement issued yesterday 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.”

In a statement issued yesterday 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.”

But Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, 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.

Ms Pieau 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.”

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