Published September 14, 2012
At least they should be able to afford a pretty good lawyer.
Britain's royal family says it is suing the French magazine that has published topless photos of Prince William's wife Kate.
St James's Palace said Friday that "legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France" by the royal couple.
The French gossip magazine Closer published the blurry images Friday but insisted it had not invaded the couple's privacy.
The images are the first to show Britain's likely future queen partially nude.
The revealing pictures of Kate were shot from a distance. The publication claimed they were taken on a guesthouse terrace in France where the couple vacationed earlier this month.
William and Kate, now formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were touring the Far East and South Pacific to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee when the photos were published.
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 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 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 $2,580 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.