Breach of privacy policy: Royal couple to sue French magzine

Kate Middletons Topless
Topless Kate

St James’s Palace today confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had launched legal action for breach of privacy against the publishers of Closer magazine in France after it published topless pictures of Kate.

It is understood that the Royal couple’s aim in launching legal proceedings is to prevent further use of the images and to seek damages. Despite this, at least two U.S. celebrity gossip websites are this evening also showing the topless pictures.Details of the legal action came as this photograph emerged showing the position where the photographer is believed to have taken the controversial pictures. It is thought to be just over half a mile away from the chateau in Provence where the Royal couple were staying.In confirming the legal action would be taken, St James’s Palace announced its lawyers would be pursuing the matter through the French courts.

In a short statement, the palace 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 royal couple have the sympathy of Downing Street with a source close to David Cameron saying that Number 10 ‘echoes the sadness of the palace’ over the publication of the pictures.The pictures were taken last week at Chateau D’Autet, a luxury holiday chateau in Provence which is which is owned by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew.He is said to have promised William and Kate a sun-kissed break in absolute privacy before they set off on a tour of Asia.

A legal source in Nanterre, a Paris suburb, also confirmed this evening that a complaint had been filed at the local Tribunal de Grande Instance against the magazine.A judicial source said: ‘The complaint is about a breach of private life, and the complainants are Prince William and the Duchess. A first hearing will be held at Nanterre TGI on Monday, in the late afternoon.‘They will not have to attend, but a Paris barrister will be representing them, along with other members of their legal team.’ It means that Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, and the photographers involved in taking the pictures, could receive a year in prison and a maximum fine of 45,000 euros.

However, Mrs Pieau insisted that she would fight any legal action, saying : ‘These photos are not in the least bit shocking.’Daily Mail photographer Bruce Adams said the chateau was clearly visible from the opposite side of the valley from where the pictures were believed to have been taken.’There is a public road that goes down one side of the valley and the chateau is on the opposite side. ‘We could not believe how easy it was to see the chateau because normally these kind of places are hidden away. It was quite surprising how open and unsecure the location was.’It is not the first time Kate has turned to the courts where she has felt her privacy has been invaded.

In 2009 when still William’s girlfriend she was photographed playing tennis on Christmas Eve while on holiday in Cornwall and the image was syndicated by a picture agency to foreign media outlets.The Duchess later won £5,000 in damages and an apology from Rex Features for invasion of privacy.The ‘furious’ Royal couple were forced to put a brave face as they attended a tea party held in their honour in Kuala Lumpur today.Earlier, a spokesman for the couple told Mail Online: ‘Their sadness has turned to anger and disbelief as we have learnt more about the photographs. We believe a red line has been crossed and we are consulting the French lawyers to see what, if any, action can be taken.

But in a show of unbelievable strength the Duchess of Cambridge managed to smile and laugh her way through a Diamond Jubilee tea party at the British High Commission.Kate sipped tea and chatted to several guests including shoe designer Jimmy Choo.She appeared determined not to let the strain of the morning’s revelations show – laughing and chatting to the designer without an apparent care in the world – although William at times did appear to have the weight of the world on his shoulders.The couple were informed over breakfast of the scandal shortly before they departed to visit a mosque in Kuala Lumpur and have seen copies of the pixellated photographs.

The anger had not subsided for Prince William as they then left the capital of Malaysia for the next leg of their tour of south east Asia.Trailed by their closest aides and airport staff, the couple walked the 200 yard red carpet laid out at the Bunga Raya VIP area of Kuala Lumpur’s airport today.The 30-year-old prince didn’t look to his left or right for most of the walk, clenching his teeth as he showed his displeasure at the invasion of his wife’s privacy. Kate allowed herself a couple of smiles.And in a sign of unity as they went up the steps to board the Boeing 737-800 jet she reassuringly placed her left hand on the small of his back.

In an interview that will further infuriate the royals, Laurence Pieau, Closer France’s editor said this afternoon: ‘These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches.’She refused to say how much she had paid for the photographs, ‘It cost the price of a good exclusive,’ she said.Ms Pieau said the magazine obtained the pictures after discovering where the couple were staying.She told French radio station Europe 1: ‘The terrace (of the chateau) was completely visible from the road.

‘They were not being careless but they were not making any special effort to conceal themselves.’She defended the decision to publish, insisting there was ‘nothing degrading’ about the photographs and told the radio station she could not understand the couple’s reaction.Instead, Ms Pieau insisted the photographs were ‘joyful’ and the text which accompanied them was ‘extremely soft’.She added: ‘We must not be too dramatic about this’.

‘These photos will go round the world. We are happy to have them and we won’t be the only ones to publish them.’Closer’s text to accompany the naked images said: ‘Kate takes advantage of those delicious moments of doing nothing and offers her breasts to the soft caress of the Provence sun. On a sun lounger, at the swimming pool of the ancient hunting lodge from the 19th Century, transformed into a magnificent guest mansion by its owner, the Viscount Linley, himself the nephew of Queen Elizabeth II, Kate forgets the fog and solitude of her house in the Isle of Anglesey in Wales where she spent long weeks of solitude and boredom alone, waiting for William, helicopter pilot for the royal airport. She tops up her tan, while he is playing with his digital tablet.

‘Their bodies are relaxed, their gestures languid, and their kisses very warm. Three magic days. Upon their arrival the atmosphere was all about relaxing. No more maintaining a front, worrying about image or etiquette.’Yesterday the magazine’s editor posted a series of titillating messages on Twitter, telling followers Prince Harry would feel ‘less alone’ when the controversial edition hit the shelves.Taking a seemingly light-hearted approach, Laurence Pieau said readers could expect the ‘hot Provence version of the crown jewels’.And she wrote: ‘With regard to English reprisals, we will keep you updated … but Kate in Provence in Closer is so pretty’.

‘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,’ a statement from the couple said.’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.’It is all the more sensational because France has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, yet one of the country’s own magazines has decided to publish pictures, if genuine, clearly taken in private with a long lens.St James’s Palace was bracing itself after Closer trailed its ‘exclusive’ on its website with the words: ‘World Exclusive; Kate and William in Provence: Oh My God!’

The magazine’s website also showed an image of the front cover which pictured the Duchess in a bikini apparently about to remove her top.A source at French Closer, which claims to be the country’s leading women’s ‘people’ magazine, said its website would be carrying the topless pictures too.But in conflicting reports, U.S. entertainment website Radar Online said the site had already removed the pictures in response to the legal threat.William and Kate are midway through a Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East, which had been going well but is now likely to be overshadowed by the controversy.

The photographs were taken last week while the couple were staying in Provence at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen’s nephew, ahead of their trip.St James’s Palace said the royal couple would not let the controversy distract them.A spokesman said: ‘The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of HM the Queen.’ A source close to David Cameron said that Number 10 ‘echoes the sadness of the Palace’ over the publication of the pictures.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Prime Minister had not seen the photographs and the Palace, rather than the Government, was dealing with the fallout from their publication.The spokeswoman said: ‘The view from Downing Street is that they are entitled to their privacy.’Closer is not run by the same company as the British title, it is run by Italian business Mondadori, owned by former president Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest.The UK magazine today distanced itself from the French publication of the same name and these pictures.

‘Closer magazine UK would like to make it clear that the two publications make entirely independent editorial decisions. In this respect the comments made by the Editor of the French edition which have reported in the media today do not reflect the opinions of Closer magazine UK.’Closer magazine UK was not offered any pictures of this nature and certainly has no intention of publishing the photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge which have been published in France this morning. Closer magazine UK takes its obligations under the PCC Code extremely seriously and would never publish topless images of a member of the Royal family on its cover or otherwise.’

A senior royal source told MailOnline: ‘The Duke and the Duchess were told at breakfast and are obviously saddened and disappointed if they are genuine as they believe they have a right to privacy – particularly on holiday.’Specifically alluding to the death of Princess Diana, William’s mother, who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was chased by paparazzi, the source said: ‘This incident turns the clock back 15 years.’Publication of the pictures is bound to reignite the row about privacy even though ironically they were taken in France – which has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.

The pictures were allegedly taken while Kate was on holiday with William, in France last week.Pictures have already surfaced on the continent of the couple sunbathing, where the Duchess was wearing a skimpy bikini.A blurb accompanying the racy pictures published by the French magazine refers to the Luberon area of Provence with the words: ‘The Duchess of Cambridge topless on the terrace of a guest house in the Luberon!’ adding ‘OMG!’ for ‘Oh My God!’

The full text reads: ‘A little more than a year after their marriage, the royal couple was offered a romantic getaway, far from the protocol and etiquette in their very own garden of Eden.’Almost alone in the world … because Closer was there! After the Olé Olé holidays of Prince Harry in Las Vegas, discover the very sensual shots of Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William .’Discover the incredible pictures of the future Queen of England as you’ve never seen her before… and as you will never see her again!’The pictures are said to show the couple smearing sun cream over their bodies in between taking a dip in plus 30 degree temperatures, the magazine explains.

A spokesman for the Duchess declined to comment last night in advance of publication.A source told the Mail: ‘It is impossible to tell at this stage whether the photographs are genuine or indeed purport to show what the magazine claims, so we are having to wait and see what transpires.’But there can be little doubt of the magnitude of their anger and disgust if the publication does indeed publish such intimate pictures.When photographs taken of Prince Harry partying naked a girl in his Las Vegas hotel room were sold to a US website last month they caused a worldwide internet sensation, even though only one newspaper in the UK chose to publish them.

The timing of publication could not be worse as the Cambridges are almost midway though a hugely successful tour on behalf of the Queen to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.They arrived in Singapore on Tuesday and are currently in Malaysia before travelling onto Borneo and then the South Pacific.Malaysia is a largely Muslim country with laws on public decency which makes the timing even more awkward.The pictures were clearly taken on private property using cameras with extremely long lenses, which means no British newspaper would publish them.But rather like the photographs of Prince Harry, it seems that there is little St James’s Palace can do about them – such as taking out an injunction to stop their publication.

All the palace will be able to do is express their anger and disgust.The photographs were taken at the magnificent Chateau D’Aulet, set in 640 acres of rolling countryside and surrounded by fields of lavender.Close to the medieval village of Viens, it is owned by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew and his wife Serena.Although it is their private holiday residence it can be rented out by wealthy holidaymakers and can house 17 people in four separate properties.It is based around a 19th Century hunting lodge, which the Viscount, who makes bespoke furniture, lovingly restored.

It also also has a heated swimming pool, tennis court and a spacious terrace with an al fresco dining area and magnificent views across miles of countryside.The lodge was bought by the Linleys in 1999 after they were introduced to the area by Peter Mayle, the author of the bestselling book A Year in Provence.William and Kate were staying at the secluded Chateau D’Autet, which is set in 640 acres of A website promoting the property as a holiday destination states that ‘its uniqueness is peace and quiet’ and claims ‘during your stay you need never leave the property’.The French version of Closer magazine was launched in June 2005 as an sister title to the British Closer, which is owned by UK publishing company Emap.It was sold in August 2006 to Mondadori France, a subsidiary of an Italian company, and now sells around 400,000 copies a week. – Dailymail