LONDON — Lawyers for Britain's royal family will go to court in France on Monday in a bid to stop further publication in that country of topless photos of William's wife Kate, the prince's office said Sunday, as the owners of an Irish newspaper criticized it for running the pictures.
St. James’s Palace said lawyers would seek an injunction in a Paris court against Italian media group Mondadori, which publishes France’s Closer and Italy’s Chi gossip magazines.
The palace also will seek damages from the publisher, which is owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Last week Closer published paparazzi snaps of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing during a holiday at a relative’s chateau in Provence. Chi says it will publish 26 pages of the images — taken with a long lens from hundreds of meters (yards) away — on Monday.
The Irish Daily Star reproduced the Closer photos on Saturday, but no British publication has run them, and Britain’s tabloids have lined up to denounce them as an invasion of the duchess’ privacy.
The palace condemned publication of the images and said it was considering “all proportionate responses” against Chi, though no decision has been made on legal action against it or the Irish Daily Star.
The strong response stands in contrast to the reception of naked photos of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas, which appeared online last month and were later published in Britain’s Sun tabloid. The palace shrugged off the photos, snapped during a game of strip billiards, and took no action against those who published them.
Some see British papers’ reluctance to run the Kate photos as a sign the country’s once-rambunctious tabloids have been cowed by a scandal over phone hacking and other wrongdoing, which brought public opprobrium and an ongoing media-ethics inquiry.
The incident also has evoked memories of the paparazzi hounding of William’s late mother, Princess Diana. A coroner’s inquest found that pursuing photographers were partly responsible for her death in a Paris car crash in August 1997.
In bad news for the Irish Daily Star, both its owners criticized it for publishing the Kate photos.
British company Northern and Shell, which co-owns the tabloid with Ireland’s Independent News and Media, or INM, said it was “profoundly dismayed” the Dublin newspaper had run the pictures. Its chief, Richard Desmond, said he planned to pull out of the joint venture that runs the tabloid.
Independent News and Media chief executive Joe Webb offered his “deepest apologies,” and said the company would be “launching an internal inquiry to ensure there will never be a repeat of this breach of decency.” But Webb said in a statement he hopes to preserve the Irish Daily Star and its 70 employees.
The storm over the photos erupted as William and Kate made an official tour of Singapore, Malaysia and the South Pacific. They arrived in the Solomon Islands on Sunday and will end their trip Tuesday in the island nation of Tuvalu.