Buckingham Palace reacted with fury and threatened legal action today after a French magazine published photographs of Kate sunbathing topless on holiday in France. The pictures were taken just a few weeks ago. In an unprecedented statement, courtiers said the intrusion on Kate's privacy was 'grotesque' and unjustifiable', and drew direct parallels to the harrasment endured by Diana by press photographers.
'The couple simply can’t believe that these pictures were taken, or that anyone saw fit to publish them. They reacted with anger and disbelief when they found out about it,' a spokesman said.
The Duke and Duchess, who are currently in the air between Malaysia and Borneo, have now seen the pictures, which were published in Closer magazine. St James’s Palace says the photographs are genuine and were taken during the couple’s break at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen’s nephew, in Luberon before their diamond jubilee tour.
Kate today visited a mosque, and was dressed accordingly.
The incident comes shortly after the 15th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana in 1997, who died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi in Paris, and plunges the royals back into another privacy row, just weeks after they lost a battle to keep the naked Harry pics out of the British press after the Sun published the pictures.
The pictures are flagged up on the front cover of the magazine with the headline: 'Oh My God! World Exclusive,' and are pixellated out on the cover reproduced on the magazine's website. They were taken using a long lens without the couple’s knowledge and will almost certainly not be published in the U.K.
Courtiers today issued the most strongly-worded statement in years, which was drawn up with William and Kate's input and veto, saying: "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."
"The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their Tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of HM The Queen."