The bottom line on Topless Kate: Money

Kate willIt all started out as a bit of innocent sunbathing on that September 5 afternoon. Who knew -- least of all Prince William and Kate -- that it would spawn a whole cottage (or is that chateau?) industry.

Here's a small list of those who have profited from the Topless/Bottomless Kate episode so far: the photographer; magazines in Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy that ran the photos; lawyers fighting for/against royals in French court; and, certainly not least, all the websites that have either posted the images or reported on them. Kate was, after all, at the top of Google search engines in the first days of the scandal.(William Foxton in The Telegraph has an interesting take on Kate and web this week).

To that list, we might also add all the fashion houses and causes that are connected with the Duchess of Cambridge. Although Kate may not like the methodology, the fact is she is more popular than ever, having whetted the appetite of a populace keen on seeing celebrities caught off-guard (or with their pants down, so to speak).

BootsThere are two recent examples of the Kate Effect: 1) Profits at the Alexander McQueen fashion house went up 27 per cent in 2011 just on their store in Britain, Italy and the U.S. 2) Le Chameau, the French company that makes the $800-a-pair rubber boots Will and Kate are seen with on country walks or camping (right), is on the verge of being bought out by Marwyn, a British investment firm keen on cashing in on Le Chameau's remarkable jump in sales this year.

You might argue that really has nothing to do with topless pictures, but that's missing the point. Will and Kate are a global brand. The Royal Family knows it too, and for the most part tries to cash in on behalf of charities. It is perhaps the best reason of all to keep the Royal franchise going.

By extension, plenty of businesses -- good and bad -- also profit. That's also the price of being royal.

This is the part of the regal enterprise that drives Prince William crazy: He cannot protect his wife or control the media to the extent he'd like. (Indeed, that injuction against France's Closer magazine may have only fanned the flames).

And it might get worse yet. Only a few dozen of the close to 300 ill-gotten photos from the French frolick. First it was topless Kate, then bottomless. Now there are rumblings a naked Prince William. You can almost hear the cash registers ringing.

Meanwhile, the royal couple has no choice but to carry on. Next Wednesday, they make their first public appearance in Britain since returning from their royal tour of Asia and South Pacific. Their visit to the Newcastle area will include, naturally, several stops in the name of charities they support.

There will be a big crowd, guaranteed. Even with all their clothes on.






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