Topless tempest: Kate photos spark palace fury
Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take their shoes off before entering a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
LONDON (AP) — Paparazzi, French media and a British royal: The publication of topless photos of Prince William's wife Kate has reunited the same players whose clash ended with the untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a Parisian car crash.
William, who has long harbored a grudge against the paparazzi who chased Diana in the days and hours leading up to her 1997 death, was clearly infuriated. The royal couple hit back with an immediate lawsuit against the popular French gossip magazine Closer, which is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori publishing empire.
The blurry photos, called a "grotesque" abuse of privacy by royal officials, show Kate — the Duchess of Cambridge — wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom. They are the first to show Britain's likely future queen with her bosom exposed.
St. James's Palace officials sharply criticized the magazine moments after the photos hit French newsstands, comparing the intrusion on the young couple's privacy to the tragic paparazzi pursuit of Diana, which many believe was a contributing factor in her early death on Aug. 31, 1997.
The parallels between the past and the present were eerie. Diana was hounded by paparazzi who took telephoto shots of her vacationing on a yacht with her boyfriend Dodi and tailed them relentlessly in Paris.
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge puts her shoes back on following a visit to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Earlier this month, a photographer with a similar long lens captured Kate and William relaxing in the sun at a private estate in Provence, a vacation spot near the French Riviera.
Instead of challenging the authenticity of the blurry photos, palace officials said they appear genuine — and should never have been taken, much less published.
"The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so," a St. James's Palace official in London said in a statement.
The British media — chastened by a deep scandal over phone hacking and other misdeeds — all shied away from using the photos. That restraint came even though Rupert Murdoch's The Sun tabloid is famed for its daily "Page 3" topless shots.