A FRENCH photographer has been charged with taking long-lens topless images of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing with husband Prince William.
A magazine editor has also been charged with publishing the highly intimate pictures of the couple on holiday in the South of France.
The photos caused a scandal when they appeared in France’s glossy showbiz magazine Closer in September last year.
They were described by a Royal spokesman as ‘reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana’.
Closer editor Laurence Pieau and the unnamed papparazzo were both been charged earlier this month under France’s strict invasion of privacy laws.
A second photographer is under formal investigation and would be charged ‘very shortly’, French news agency AFP reported today.
The man now charged with taking the topless pictures is thought to be a French Riviera-based lensman, in his 40s, and one of a band of snappers who stalked William’s mother Princess Diana in the weeks before her death in 1997.
He is believed to have taken more than 200 topless and nude images of Kate and William as they relaxed at Viscount Linley’s Chateau d’Autet villa in Provence.
Many of the images - taken from a public road less half a mile - were published around Europe, but never in Britain.
The French legal representative of publishing house Mondadori France - which owns France’s Closer magazine - has also been charged, along with a senior editor of the newspaper La Provence which also sent a photographer to snap Kate and William.
Kate, 31 and Prince William, 30, took legal action against Closer, which has no links to the British version, immediately after the photos were published.
The couple - whose son Prince George of Cambridge was born this week - cited a ‘grotesque breach of privacy’ and ‘violation of a highly intimate moment of married life’.
Closer magazine’s lawyer Delphine Pando told an initial court hearing in the Paris suburb of Nanterre last year that topless photographs were no longer considered shocking.
Closer editor Ms Pieau defended her decision to publish the grainy images, insisting they were ‘joyous’.
She said last year: “These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like millions of women you see on beaches.”
A spokesman for St James’s Palace said after the pictures were published: “The legal process is a matter for the French authorities.
“This 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.”