Royals launch legal action after topless Kate Middleton photographs in French Closer magazine

 

A furious Duke and Duchess of Cambridge launched legal action against a French magazine tonight after it published topless pictures of Kate taken while the couple were on holiday.

Topless Kate photos risk reigniting privacy row

French Closer pics of topless Kate Middleton are just vulgaire

The publication was compared by St James's Palace to the worst experiences of Diana, Princess of Wales at the hands of the paparazzi.

The palace led a chorus of protests, describing the invasion of privacy as "grotesque and totally unjustifiable".

Royal aides drew parallels between Diana's most upsetting encounters with certain elements of the press and the "unthinkable" actions of the French magazine Closer, which left Kate and William feeling "anger and disbelief".

And tonight the palace announced that lawyers would be pursuing the matter through the French courts.

In a short 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."

The royal couple have the sympathy of Downing Street with a source close to David Cameron saying that Number 10 "echoes the sadness of the palace" over the publication of the pictures.

In a strongly-worded statement 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."

William and Kate are midway through a Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East, which had been going well until now.

The photographs were taken last week while the couple were staying in Provence at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen's nephew, ahead of their trip.

St James's Palace said the royal couple would not let the controversy distract them.

A spokesman said: "The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of HM the Queen."

A source added: "Their sadness has turned to anger and disbelief as we learn more about the photographs."

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.

The publication of the pictures was described as "nauseating" by Michael Ellis, the Conservative MP for Northampton North, who said the incident would bring back painful memories for William and his brother Prince Harry, as their mother Diana had died following a car crash in France when the vehicle was being pursued by paparazzi.

Mr Ellis said: "It is no more than voyeurism. It is in my view frankly close to criminal conduct. If a person was in a state of undress and had photographs taken of them, they would be rightly offended and appalled, and quite frankly the person taking the photograph could be subject to arrest. I don't see the difference in this case."

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.

Legal experts said the royal couple would have a strong case.

Thomas Roussineau, who specialises in privacy law, said publication of the photos undoubtedly breaks French privacy laws .

"It is totally forbidden," he said. "The castle is not the street, it is in a private place, and they are intimate pictures."

But he said it was likely the magazine had weighed up the potential cost of a fine against the revenue the photos would bring.

Caroline Jan, solicitor at London-based firm Kingsley Napley's media group and active member of the Franco-British Law Society, said it would be the "biggest Franco-British privacy clash since Princess Diana's death".

She added: "The French magazine publishing pictures of the Duchess is clearly testing the water in a country where privacy laws are stricter than in the UK."

But media lawyer Mark Stephens suggested William and Kate might not have the ability to take effective action over the photographs.

He said: "It is obviously highly intrusive but as they have published the pictures the genie is out of the bottle."

A source said the legal proceedings were the result of William and Kate feeling they had to make a stand following the actions of the magazine, but the controversy would not stop them getting the most out of their tour on behalf of the Queen.

The source said: "This is a clear and unjustifiable, grotesque breach of privacy. If we don't take a stand against this, then when would we make a stand?"

He added: "They feel very strongly about what's happened in France today, but it's no word of a lie they are upbeat and are enjoying the tour.

"They remain utterly committed to their work and this will not intrude on it." end

PA

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn