Kate Middleton Trial Over Topless Photos Evokes Memories; Princess Diana’s Death

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Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, enjoying a holiday in France in 2016 via Hello Magazine

A grainy photograph of Kate Middleton topless caused a scandal in Britain and sparked a lawsuit over alleged breach of privacy. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are seeking $1.6 million (1.5 million Euros) in damages. The trial of six people involved with the publication of the photos started on Tuesday in France. The photos were printed in the French Magazine Closer and a regional daily La Provence in September 2012.  Prince William stated that he found the incident “particularly shocking” considering his mother’s death involving paparazzi in 1997, the Telegraph reported.

In 1997, Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed died in a car cash while being pursued by photographers in Paris. In 2008 the car’s chauffeur and the paparazzi were found to have been negligent.

“In September 2012, my wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy,” Prince William said in a written statement submitted to the court as part of the proceedings and read aloud in French by their lawyer, Jean Veilhe.

“We know France and the French, and we know that they are, in principle, respectful of private life, including that of their guests. The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy.”

The photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, taken with a long lens, depict Kate Middleton sunbathing topless and rubbing suntan lotion on William’s back while on vacation in the South of France at the family’s private villa, in 2012. Valerie Suau, the photographer for La Provence accused of taking the photos, told the court that she did not intend to breach the couples’ privacy.  The magazine’s editor, Laurence Pieau, previously argued that the photos are “not in the least shocking” because “millions of women” regularly tan without tops on. On Tuesday the magazine’s attorney argued that the photos cast the royal couple “in a positive light” and did not constitute a breach of privacy.  The royals are not expected to attend the trial. The verdict is set to be announced in July.

The royal family was rocked by controversial photos in 2011, when old photos of Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton, topless and in a bikini were published.  In 2012, pictures of Prince Harry naked in Las Vegas were leaked.

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