Attorneys from Britain’s royal family have initiated legal action against the French magazine that printed topless photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The case relates to Closer, a French publication that published photos taken of Kate and her husband, Prince William, during a private holiday in the south of France.
Lawyers for the royals have also filed a civil injunction to force Closer to withdraw the editions from newsstands.
“We can confirm that a criminal complaint is to be made to the French Prosecution Department," a spokesman for St. James Palace said in a statement. "It concerns the taking of photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge whilst on holiday and the publication of those photographs in breach of their privacy."
Lawyers will also attend the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre in Paris on Monday, seeking damages.
The BBC reported that if the courts determine that the royal couple’s privacy was indeed breached, they could levy fines of up to tens of thousands of euros and also place the editor and photographer in jail for up a year.
However, Laurence Pieau, the managing editor of Closer, has stated that the photos were in no way degrading and even suggested that she possesses even more intimate and explicit photos of the royal couple which she chose not to release.
Meanwhile, while the Duke and Duchess are touring through Southeast Asia, two more European publications -- one in Ireland (Irish Daily Star) and the other in Italy (Chi) -- have also published the controversial photos, which have sparked outrage in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
In fact, Chi’s feature on the Duchess comprised more than 20 pages of photographs; the cover has the puzzling headline: “La Regina e Nuda!” (“The Queen is Naked!”)
Alfonso Signorini, the director of Chi magazine, Closer’s Italian sister publication, defended printing the pictures.
"Why, I wonder, Kate Middleton, for now Duchess of Cambridge but future queen of the United Kingdom, should be different from girls her age?” he wrote in an editorial.
"Never has a situation managed to renew the English monarchy, with its obligations and its rigid protocol, more than this one."
"The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical," Signorini added. "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."
In fact, he asserted that the photos would actually help Kate’s image by presenting her as “more likable" and "less distant from all of us.”
However, the decision by the Irish Daily Star to print the photos has elicited condemnation from its own owners.
The Daily Star’s joint owners, the Northern and Shell group of the UK and Independent News and Media of Ireland, claimed they had no prior knowledge of the paper’s plans.
Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern and Shell, said he will withdraw his company from Ireland and take steps to shut down the joint venture.
It is not clear if the royal family will take legal action against the Italian and Irish magazines that have printed the photos.
No British publication has published the photo yet.
Mark Stephens, a solicitor, told BBC that the photos present a grave breach of privacy. "There is no doubt here that the princess had an absolute expectation of privacy and that these photographs should never have been taken, could not have been taken without breaking the law and should never have been published," he said.
Similarly, Prime Minister Sir John Major also condemned the photos. "The way [these photographs] have been obtained is tasteless,” he said.
“It is the action of a peeping Tom. In our country, we prosecute peeping Toms. That's exactly what they have done, and they have been peeping with long lenses from a long way away. They're very distasteful."
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