UPDATED: Closer magazine publishes Duchess of Cambridge topless photos
Kate and her husband, Prince William, are said to be saddened and disappointed after French magazine Closer announced it was ready to publish topless photographs of her today.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William were informed over breakfast of the scandal shortly before they departed to visit a mosque in Kuala Lumpur and have seen copies of the pixellated photographs.
The couple is now considering what their legal options are should the pictures prove to be genuine.
St James’s Palace was bracing itself after Closer trailed its “exclusive” on its website with the words: “World Exclusive: Kate and William in Provence: Oh My God!”
The website also showed an image of the front cover which pictured the Duchess in a bikini apparently about to remove her top.
A senior royal source said: “The Duke and the Duchess were told at breakfast and are obviously saddened and disappointed if they are genuine as they believe they have a right to privacy – particularly on holiday.”
Specifically alluding to the death of Princess Diana, Prince William’s mother, who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was chased by paparazzi, the source said: “This incident turns the clock back 15 years.”
They have instructed officials to investigate and have not ruled out taking legal action against Closer magazine.
Their lawyers in the UK and Paris have been speaking overnight. But they may also decided to let “public opinion to run its course”.
Publication of the pictures is bound to reignite the row about privacy even though ironically they were taken in France – which has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.
The pictures were allegedly taken while Kate Middleton was on holiday with Prince William, in France last week.
The couple was staying in Provence at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen’s nephew, ahead of their current Diamond Jubilee tour of south east Asia and the South Pacific on behalf of the Queen.
Pictures have already surfaced on the continent of the couple sunbathing, where the Duchess was wearing a skimpy bikini.
Now Closer magazine, one of the biggest celebrity glossy magazines in the country, says it has obtained pictures of the royal couple by the swimming pool, including ones of Kate topless.
Laurence Pieau, editor of French Closer magazine, said Prince Harry would feel “less alone” when the magazine hits shelves on Friday, and the pictures are beamed around the world.
She said that they showed Kate “fully topless” and that there would be “nipples”.
Laurence Pieau said Kate had removed her bikini to “avoid tanning lines”. She said the “whole world would be talking” about the pictures.
A blurb accompanying the racy picture spread meanwhile refers to the Luberon area of Provence with the words: “The Duchess of Cambridge topless on the terrace of a guest house in the Luberon!” adding “OMG!” for “Oh My God!”
The full text reads: “A little more than a year after their marriage, the royal couple was offered a romantic getaway, far from the protocol and etiquette in their very own garden of Eden.
“Almost alone in the world … because Closer was there! After the Olé Olé holidays of Prince Harry in Las Vegas, discover the very sensual shots of Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William.
“Discover the incredible pictures of the future Queen of England as you’ve never seen her before… and as you will never see her again!”
The pictures are said to show the couple smearing sun cream over their bodies in between taking a dip in plus 30 degree temperatures, the magazine explains.
A spokesman for the Duchess declined to comment last night in advance of publication.
A source said: “It is impossible to tell at this stage whether the photographs are genuine or indeed purport to show what the magazine claims, so we are having to wait and see what transpires.”
But there can be little doubt of the magnitude of their anger and disgust if the publication does indeed publish such intimate pictures.
When photographs taken of Prince Harry partying naked a girl in his Las Vegas hotel room were sold to a US website last month they caused a worldwide internet sensation, even though only one newspaper in the UK chose to publish them.
The timing of publication could not be worse as the Cambridges are almost midway though a hugely successful tour on behalf of the Queen to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
They arrived in Singapore on Tuesday and are currently in Malaysia before travelling onto Borneo and then the South Pacific.
Malaysia is a largely Muslim country with laws on public decency which makes the timing even more awkward.
The pictures were clearly taken on private property using cameras with extremely long lenses, which means no British newspaper would publish them.
But rather like the photographs of Prince Harry, it seems that there is little St James’s Palace can do about them – such as taking out an injunction to stop their publication.
All the palace will be able to do is express their anger and disgust.
The photographs were taken at the magnificent Chateau D’Aulet, set in 640 acres of rolling countryside and surrounded by fields of lavender.
Close to the medieval village of Viens, it is owned by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew and his wife Serena.
Although it is their private holiday residence it can be rented out by wealthy holidaymakers and can house 17 people in four separate properties.
It is based around a 19th Century hunting lodge, which the Viscount, who makes bespoke furniture, lovingly restored.
It also has a heated swimming pool, tennis court and a spacious terrace with an al fresco dining area and magnificent views across miles of countryside.
The lodge was bought by the Linleys in 1999 after they were introduced to the area by Peter Mayle, the author of the bestselling book A Year in Provence.
The French version of Closer magazine was launched in June 2005 as a sister title to the British Closer, which is owned by UK publishing company Emap.
It was sold in August 2006 to Mondadori France, a subsidiary of an Italian company, and now sells around 400,000 copies a week.
French Closer claims the country’s leading women’s “people” magazine.
It also has a very successful website, which will be carrying the pictures too, said a Closer source.
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