Quite why the future king and queen of the United Kingdom should wish to remind the world of the long-forgotten, blurry photos of Kate’s breasts that were published in gossip magazines and newspapers around the world shortly after they married is a tricky question to fathom.
Their desire to deter publications from publishing unauthorized photographs of them (and their children) is understandable—but hopelessly naïve in the global internet era.
And yet, almost five years after Kate Middleton was photographed sunbathing topless at a French villa, William and Kate got their day in court, demanding €1.5m (around $1.6m) in damages for the alleged invasion of their privacy by the French edition of Closer magazine in a French courtroom.
Lawyers for the magazine accused the royals of hypocrisy and seeking to cash in on their fame, saying the couple were trying to make money out of their celebrity with “punitive Anglo-Saxon damages.”
Lawyer Paul-Albert Iweins said couples in France were always being pictured while out using sun cream during their summer holidays, and branded William and Kate as “hypocritical.”
“Their public and private lives are so intertwined as to be inseparable,” the lawyer told the court, adding the claim was absurd considering the couple’s wedding at Westminster Abbey in 2011 had been watched by “two billion people.”
Even if the court sides with the royal couple—a big if—they are unlikely to win anything like the sum of money demanded. French privacy decisions sometimes settle for as little as a symbolic one or two euro, which would heap further humiliation on the couple.
The photographs were taken from a public road, which has encouraged Closer magazine to defend the case.
William now has the dubious honor of becoming the first ever senior royal to seek monetary damages from a media publication.
William and Kate were not in court, but a statement from William was read out. It said:
“In September 2012, my wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy.
“We know France and the French and we know that they are, in principle, respectful of private life, including that of their guests.
“The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy.”
He added that the images were “all the more painful” given the paparazzi harassment linked to the death of his mother.
The statement echoed a letter issued at the time the photos were taken.
The images of Kate sunbathing on a terrace at a chateau in Provence owned by Viscount David Linley, Princess Margaret’s son, were published under the headline “Oh my God!” and reprinted around the world.