Topless Duchess of Cambridge pictures: William and Kate claim victory after ban
THE lawyer acting for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said yesterday that the Royal couple have been “vindicated” after a French court banned a magazine from reusing controversial photographs of the duchess sunbathing topless, describing them as a “brutal display” of her private life.
The ruling means the publication, Closer, must also hand over all copies of the pictures taken during the couple’s holiday in southern France within 24 hours. If they fail to do so, they face a fine of £8,000 each day the injunction is not respected.
Mondadori France, the magazine’s publishing company, owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is also banned from passing the photos on to any third party, and will have to pay £2,000 in legal fees following the civil action.
The magazine sparked outrage when it published 14 photos of the partially-clad duchess in its pages on Friday, prompting St James’s Palace to condemn the move as a “grotesque” invasion of their privacy which was “reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales”.
Before yesterday’s ruling, the court in Nanterre, near Paris, opened a criminal investigation into charges that both the photographer who took the shots and Closer breached the privacy of the young couple.
The duke and duchess are also seeking damages from the weekly publication over its use of the images across a five-page spread.
In explaining its ruling, which listed the couple by their full names, William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, the Tribunal de Grande Instance stated: “These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred metres from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive.
“[They] were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover [of the magazine] appeared.”
A written judgment in the civil case said the edition carried the 14 photographs which “belong to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,” although the ruling refers only to those pictures that have already been published – Closer’s editor has previously suggested she may have other pictures.
The judgment cited article nine of France’s civil code that states that “any person, whatever his fame, his present or future functions, has the right to the respect of his private life and image”.
The lawyer for Montedori failed to show up at the court. The royal couple’s lawyer, Maud Sobel, described it as “a wonderful decision,” explaining: “We’ve been vindicated.”
A spokesman for the couple later added: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome the judge’s ruling.”
In a reflection of just how intent the royal couple are on protecting their privacy – and dissuading paparazzi from similar ventures – St James’s Palace said family lawyers would be filing a criminal complaint against ‘X’ – the unnamed photographer who took the pictures.
The criminal lawsuit is thought to be aimed at flushing out the mystery photographer’s name and - by targeting the source - allow the couple to stop the photos spreading further around the world. If the criminal case goes ahead, the photographer could face a large fine and up to one year in prison.
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