After the French magazine, Closer, published last week scandalous photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge vacationing in a seemingly-private chateau in the South of France, including many photos of Kate Middleton topless, other tabloid magazines are trying to get in on the frenzy.
On Monday, Italian magazine Chi published a 26-page spread of the photos of Kate Middleton. Chi magazine, like Closer, is part of the Italian publishing house Mondadori, owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, according to The Mirror (UK).
The publication, in a special editon of Chi magazine, comes on the same day that William and Kate are to file legal charges in a French court against Closer magazine, in an apparently futile attempt to stop the pictures being reproduced around the world.
The royal couple was sharing a “healthy and profoundly intimate” moment when the photos were taken, their lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, told the court. The situation was “deeply personal.” William’s St. James’s Palace called the publications of the photos a “grotesque” invasion of the couple’s privacy.
Mr. Hamelle told the French court that he is seeking €5,000 in damages from Closer magazine and an injunction forcing the tabloid to stop publication elsewhere, including on the Internet. He also asked the court to fine Closer €10,000 a day for each day the injunction is not respected, and €100,000 if the photos are sold in France or abroad.
The photos in question show the Duchess of Cambridge relaxing during a holiday at a private villa in Provence, in southern France, sometimes without her bathing suit top and, in one case, her suit bottom partially pulled down to apply sun screen.
“It’s not an accessible (view) from the exterior,” Hamelle said of the site – a point contested by Closer’s lawyer, Delphine Pando who said the site is visible from a nearby road. “What is certain for her (Kate’s) close family as for herself is that it’s something extremely troubling,” Hamelle said.
Mr. Pando, the lawyer for Closer, asked the court to throw out the royal demand, arguing that the rights to the photos belong to an agency – which sold their use to Closer. “We are not the owners of these photos,” she said. “The photos are out there. If a TV show wants to show an image of this (magazine) edition, it’s got nothing to do with us.”
That argument echoed the stance of the main editor of Chi magazine. Alfonso Signorini said over the weekend that he didn’t fear legal action since the photos are already in the public domain following Closer’s publication.
Defiant editor Mr. Signorini even claimed “not even a direct call from the Queen” would stop him running the controversial pictures, under the headline ‘la Regina è nuda’ – ‘the queen is naked.’
Signorini defended his actions saying: “The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical. “This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love.”
No British magazine has yet published the photographs, at a time when the journalists’ behavior is under scrutiny after the ‘News of The World’ phone hacking scandal, but scans of Closer magazine were reprinted in an Irish newspaper on Saturday.
Scans of Kate Middleton topless photos are also widely available on the Internet. Mainstream photo agencies are now carrying images of the French magazine on sale and being read in France and Italy.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said Monday that the country planned to introduce new privacy laws after the Irish Daily Star newspaper published the topless photographs of the princess.
“It is clear that some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between prurient interest and the public interest,” said Shatter. “Sections of the print media believe that public figures are fair game and have no right to privacy in respect of any aspect of their lives.”
Independent Star, the company which owns the newspaper in question, said Monday that Michael O’Kane had been suspended as editor and an internal inquiry had been launched.