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Topless tempest: Kate photos spark palace fury

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Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge shakes hands with well-wishers during a walk through a central city park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Prince William and Kate are on a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

LONDON— Paparazzi, French media and a British royal: The publication of topless photos of Prince William’s wife Kate has reunited the same players whose clash ended with the untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a Parisian car crash.

William, who has long harbored a grudge against the paparazzi who chased Diana in the days and hours leading up to her 1997 death, was clearly infuriated. The royal couple hit back with an immediate lawsuit against the popular French gossip magazine Closer.

The blurry photos, called a “grotesque” abuse of privacy by royal officials, show Kate — the Duchess of Cambridge — wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom. They are the first to show Britain’s likely future queen with her bosom exposed.

St. James’s Palace officials sharply criticized the magazine moments after the photos hit French newsstands, comparing the intrusion on the young couple’s privacy to the tragic paparazzi pursuit of Diana, which many believe was a contributing factor in her early death on Aug. 31, 1997.

The parallels between the past and the present were eerie. Diana was hounded by paparazzi who took telephoto shots of her vacationing on a yacht with her boyfriend Dodi and tailed them relentlessly in Paris.

Earlier this month, a photographer with a similar long lens captured Kate and William relaxing in the sun at a private estate in Provence, a vacation spot near the French Riviera.

Instead of challenging the authenticity of the blurry photos, palace officials said they appear genuine — and should never have been taken, much less published.

“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,” a St. James’s Palace official in London said in a statement.

The British press — chastened by a deep scandal over phone hacking and other misdeeds — all shied away from using the photos. That restraint came even though Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid is famed for its daily “Page 3″ topless shots.

The photos, which were not available on English newsstands, appeared to unite many Britons behind their royal family.

“I think it’s quite outrageous,” said Alice Mason, 24, from London. “They were on holidays in a private place and some creepy journalist took pictures. It’s not in the public interest to see this.

“They are always going to be in the public eye, but there is a line, and they (the press) crossed that line.”

She said the royal couple has “every right to be outraged, especially with what happened to Diana.”

Much of the anger seemed to stem from the fact that the royal couple was at a private residence when they were photographed.

Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in supporting the royal couple’s right to privacy. William and Kate married in 2011 and both have recently expressed an interest in having children.

Royal officials have stressed that William and Kate should not be photographed when they are not in public. They have complained before about candid pictures of the couple walking their cocker spaniel puppy Lupo on a wintry day in north Wales, where William is based as a military search-and-rescue pilot. The palace has also complained about an Australian magazine’s use of photos of the couple on their honeymoon.

Those complaints were expressed quietly compared to Friday’s stern reproach of the French press.

Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, defended the decision to use the topless photos. She told French radio the couple was on a terrace that was visible from the road when they were photographed.

She said they were not making an effort to conceal themselves and called the photos “joyful,” not degrading.

“We must not be too dramatic about this,” she said, refusing to say how much the magazine paid for the pictures.

A French lawyer who is an expert in media law said the royal couple has clear grounds for an invasion of privacy case against the magazine. Last week, French first lady Valerie Trierweiler won a judgment of €2,000 ($2,580) after the publication of photos of her in a bikini.

“French magistrates take into account the victim’s behavior, when the person is flaunting themselves on camera. Kate Middleton will get damages because she’s not behaving in this way,” said the lawyer, Anne Pigeon-Bormans.

The British press, wary about an ongoing U.K. media inquiry into suspected criminal wrongdoing at a number of papers, has generally respected the palace guidelines.

“There’s absolutely zero chance of the British press publishing these photos,” Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the Murdoch’s News of the World, told The Associated Press.

Wallis, who was arrested last year in the British phone hacking scandal, said the arguments against publication under British rules are many: Kate had an expectation of privacy, she was doing nothing wrong and she was photographed by stealth by someone using a long lens.

In contrast, he said the recent publication of photographs of Prince Harry naked in a Las Vegas hotel suite was legitimate, because it raised questions both about the security arrangements for the third in line to the British throne and also about his judgment.

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Associated Press writers Raissa Ioussouf in London and Lori Hinnant and Thomas Adamson in Paris contributed to this report.


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  • PaengSaAmerika

    I hate calling those paparazzis as journalists. They’re just after for money. It’s all about money. Journalists in the past were just for scoops. Poor Kate, she probably realized how hard to be part of the royal family.

  • AFPako

    She is just ordinary looking woman. I wouldnt even look at her , so skinny.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GDLJBVQKYUSWJAK6ICQITGFTUU Toni

      Mr Gwapo Ang-tingin – this is such a pathetic comment. The issue here is not whether you like to see her boobs or not. Its about invasion of privacy. 

      No one wants to see your teeny-weeny dick for sure, but you would not like it if someone used a microscope to take a photo of it while taking a leak and publish it in a tabloid, would you?

  • http://twitter.com/MarLouWang Marlou Wang

    OMG!!! Do you think England will once again declare war with France??!! Then Napoleon Bonapart II will arise or Joan Arc II will arise!!! This will be the collapse of the Europe! The Russia will take advantage of the situation, they will start invading East Europe!  (just hallucinating).

  • http://twitter.com/MarLouWang Marlou Wang

    A source from Closer France said that the “private place” stuff can be easily viewed from the street. If this is true, why is the future queen not careful exposing half-naked? She wasn’t born yesterday knowing that paparazzi exist all the time around her even in her sleep.

  • regd

    Where’s the photo? I can’t find any on the web. 

  • TANYA22

     What is the relevant of this story to the Philippines Problem? Just Asking as if front page? Marketing????

  • Vertumnus

    Ridiculous story! So someone took a picture of her boobies! Big deal! There are more important matter in the world than pictures of royal boobies.  This is the age of the internet and it takes a few seconds to find naked pictures of celebrities.  The Muslims are out for blood and they have this as a front page news!  OMG!

  • oh_noh

    wag pagtakpan ang katangahan!!!



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