Topless Kate pictures: Duke and duchess sue French magazine Closer

Kate and William have launched legal action against the publication of topless pictures of the duchess, Clarence House has said.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have launched legal action against the French magazine Closer over its publication of topless pictures of the duchess, Clarence House has said.

The celebrity gossip magazine printed pictures of the duchess taken during the couple's private holiday in France.

A royal spokesman said the legal proceedings had been launched in France and were for breach of privacy.

Closer's editor said the couple were "visible from the street".

"These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches," said Laurence Pieau.

She described the reaction as "a little disproportionate".

'Face like thunder'

A spokesman for the couple, who are on a tour of South East Asia and the South Pacific to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, strongly condemned publication of the pictures.

The duke and duchess, who were staying at the French chateau of the Queen's nephew, Lord Linley, "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", said the spokesman for Clarence House, the Prince of Wales's office.

Closer The pictures were published on the front page and five inside pages

The spokesman said the incident was "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".

One royal official said the couple could not have chosen a more secluded spot in France for their private holiday.

The magazine's website says the pictures are of the couple "like you have never seen them before. Gone are the fixed smiles and the demure dresses. On holiday Kate forgets everything."

A royal spokesman 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 BBC's Nicholas Witchell said he had rarely seen such a level of publicly expressed anger from the palace over such an incident, and this anger reflected Prince William's feelings on the matter.

Our correspondent said that the prince had a "look of absolute thunder" on his face as they left Kuala Lumpur - a stop on their nine-day tour - to travel to Sabah in north Borneo. Kate, meanwhile, "looked composed and was smiling", he said.

Peter Hunt added that William's fury was because the prince had promised Kate that "what happened to his mother would not happen to her, and he has failed on this occasion but he does not want to fail again".

'Remain focused'

British newspapers said they were offered photographs last week but turned them down.

The Sun - the only British newspaper to publish recent pictures of Prince Harry naked - said it had no intention of publishing the images.

"The circumstances are very different to those relating to the photos of Prince Harry in Las Vegas. As we said at the time, he was at a party in a hotel suite with a large group of strangers and one of those present released a photograph into the public domain," said the Sun's editor Dominic Mohan.

Start Quote

After the fury with which St James's Palace condemned the publication, the move was inevitable - but it is not unprecedented”

End Quote Nick Higham BBC News

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "The view from Downing Street is that they are entitled to their privacy."

A royal spokesman said the couple would not let the controversy distract them from their trip.

"The duke and duchess remain focused currently on their tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of HM the Queen."

The couple spent the day in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur where they started the day with visit to a mosque for the first time.

They later left the mainland and flew to Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah on Borneo, where they will travel to the rainforest to learn about the wildlife.

Closer is not run by the same company as the British title; it is administered by Italian business Mondadori, owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's holding company Fininvest.

The publisher which established the Closer brand, said it was "appalled" by the decision to publish the images and said it was reviewing the licence of the French magazine, over which it has no editorial control.

Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media, which owns the UK version of Closer, said: "We deplore the publication of these intrusive and offensive pictures and have asked that Closer France takes these pictures down immediately from its website and desist from publishing any further pictures.

"Bauer Media and Closer UK regards publication of these photographs as a gross intrusion of their Royal Highnesses' privacy."

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