More topless photos of Kate hit streets as legal battle heats up
While Kate was treated to traditional dancing from bare-breasted women in the Solomon Islands on Monday, lawyers for the Duke and Duchess were in Paris launching their counter-offensive against topless photos of the Duchess.
The lawyers will find out Tuesday morning if a judge will grant an injunction stopping any further printing of topless photos in the French gossip magazine Closer, which published a series of shots in their edition last Friday
The controversy over the paparazzi photos was intensified by Italy's Chi magazine, which hit newsstands Monday with a special section featuring 18 photos of topless Kate. Both Closer and Chi are published by Mondadori, owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Lawyers for the royal couple have made a formal criminal complaint of breach of privacy and trespass. At the court hearing Monday, attorney Aurélien Hamelle asked the judge for damages as well as a ban on Closer printing or re-selling any more of the more than 200 photos that were taken at a French chateau, just days before the William and Kate set off on their nine-day tour of Asia and the South Pacific.
If the court challenges are successful, Closer's editor, Laurence Pieau, and the so-far unidentified photographer, could go to jail for a year and be fined the maximum $57,000 (Canadian).
Hammelle told the judge that Kate is "a young woman, not an object."
"They (Closer) were aware of the illegal character of the photos," he said. "They knew how the princess and Prince William would react to having their intimacy violated."
Representing Closer, Delphine Pando told the court that the royals themselves were the root of the problem, that they made a "disproportionate response" to the publication of photos. She also noted that "they were clearly visible from the road."
Chi, meanwhile, was reportedly doing a brisk business in selling its magazine, which has a weekly circulation of about 340,000 copies.
In an editorial, Chi editor Alfonso Signorini defended the special issue, titled "The Queen is Naked."
"What appears on the cover of Chi firstly is a beautiful young girl who is similar to millions of girls around the world who suntan topless,” he wrote.
“Seeing a future sovereign immortalized in a series of pictures that are neither perverse nor harmful to her dignity, makes her more likable, less anachronistic or distant from us.”
Signorini went on to offer some advice to the Palace: "Rather than getting angry with the media, which are exercising nothing more than their right to inform, the Royal Palace should, in my very humble opinion, take the opportunity to comment on this scoop with typical British humour and say 'so what?'"
The photos in Chi (right), like the ones in Closer, show the Duke and Duchess sunbathing on the balcony of the chateau in France. In an article accompanying the photos, a plastic surgeon used the photos to speculate on whether Kate has had breast surgery (he concludes they are "absolutely natural").
Meanwhile, William and Kate have kept their smiles intact the last few days as they continue their royal tour. "Their motto is keep calm and carry on," a royal source told London's Daily Mirror. “They have put it to bed and it has given them some closure to know legal action is being pursued.”
The Duke and Duchess were given a rousing welcome by the people of the village of Marau in the Solomon Islands on Monday. During a visit to a cultural centre, Kate became a true islander as she was presented with a floral headdress made from frangipani and bougainvillea. Later, they were taken to the island of Tavanipupu aboard a war canoe and presented with a variety of gifts, some presented by young bare-breasted women. Kate couldn't help but giggle.
The couple went barefoot as they toured among the natives. Kate started the day in a yellow dress from Jaeger, then changed into a blue Mulberry dress. She spent a half hour talking with 40 women from the Young Women's Parliamentary Group, dedicated to giving women a strong voice in the male-dominated society.
"Her presence has motivated us further and also given encouragement," one woman told the Daily Mail. "It's a huge boost to our cause."
While there is a full-force legal attack on Closer in France, speculation is that the royals won't launch similiar actions against after Chi in Italy or the Daily Star in Ireland, which published pictures on Saturday. The Palace has appealed to the media to use "common sense and decency" and not publish any topless photographs of the duchess.
Chi has already suffered some criticism from other publications in Italy, but the magazine's chair, Marina Berlusconi, daughter of Silvio, defended the decision to print the photos in a letter Monday to the newspaper La Repubblica.
As quoted in the New York Times, she wrote that Mondadori "is a publishing house that uses in the best way possible the freedom and independence that shareholders have always bestowed on it, and even in this case it just did its job."
She also said that dozens of magazines had competed for the photos.
It appears that the Daily Star will already pay a steep price for publishing pictures. Northern & Shell, the UK company that co-owns the paper with Ireland's Independent News & Media, condemed the paper's decision and plans to dissolve its joint partnership.
Ireland's minister of justice, Alan Shatter, also announced plans Monday to introduce privacy laws in the wake of the topless photos.
Shatter criticized journalistic standards at some print media.
''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,'' he said.
Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet young well-wishers during a visit to the Coast Watcher and Solomon Scouts Memorial on Monday, Day 7 of their Diamond Jubilee Tour. (Getty Images)