The photographer who took the topless pictures of Kate Middleton is British, it was claimed today.
French paparazzo Pascal Rostain said the Royal couple was staked out at the chateau while on their holiday by an Englishman living in the south of France.
Pascal Rostain also sensationally claimed that the photographer was spying on them on the orders of France’s Closer magazine, which was first to publish 13 intimate images of Kate and William last week.
Pascal Rostain, in his 40s, is a close friend of former French First Lady Carla Bruni and one of France’s most notorious long lens photographers.
He told France Metro newspaper in Lyon: “The irony of this whole thing is that the photographer who took these pictures is an Englishman living in the south of France.
“These photos were taken on the orders of Closer, who asked him to sit around for several days to take them.
“For his efforts he did not earn a lot. He could have sold them for 10,000 euros.
“But in fact he was just paid his wages for going to take them.
“He didn’t put them on the open market either, where he could have earned a lot more.”
Another French photographer outside the Chateau d’Autet where the snaps were taken was a French woman named Valerie Suau – nicknamed The Sewer because of the pronunciation of her surname.
She has admitted taking pictures of Kate Middleton in her bikini, but said she does not know who took the topless photos.
The Royal couple this week won a landmark injunction preventing further distribution of the images by Closer, under the threat of a 100,000 euro fine.
They have also handed over all files containing the images to representatives of the couple on the orders of the judge, after they were ruled a “brutal” invasion of privacy.
The court made no ruling for the magazine to name the photographer, however, and it has the right to protect his or identity under France’s laws on protection of journalistic sources.
Meanwhile a criminal investigation is under way to find and prosecute the photographer – who could face a year in jail and a 50,000 euros fine.
Yet the photos are still being touted on the open market worldwide, with magazines in Italy, Denmark and Sweden all publishing them.
Closer published 13 grainy images of Kate’s breasts and bottom last Thursday, branded “grotesque and unjustifiable” by a Royal spokesman.
Pascal Rostain did not specifically say he knew the identity of Kate’s photographer, but is known to be very well connected among the French paparazzi community.
He defended the person who took them, adding: “As a photographer, I take the pictures I want and let the publication decide whether to print them.
“What they choose to print is not the photographer’s problem, but the editor’s.”
There are thought to be up to 200 photos taken of Kate and Prince William at the time – many of them much more explicit.
Closer magazine’s editor Laurence Pieau defended her decision to publish 13 of the photos, insisting the images were “joyous”.
She said: “These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like millions of women you see on beaches.
“They were not making any special effort to conceal themselves. Criticizing our magazine is stupid.”
Laurence Pieau also warned also that Closer had more photos, adding: “Intimate pictures exist that we haven’t published and will not publish. Probably other newspapers will choose to publish them.”