Privacy law issues once again hit the headlines and once again over a British royal, with the topless pics of Kate Middleton described as “grotesque” and observers commenting that it brings back memories of Princess Diana’s battles with the paparazzi. French law is also likely to support a claim of breach of privacy.
Fresh from the scandal of pictures of Prince Edward frolicking in Las Vegas the issue once again pushes privacy law considerations to the fore.
“(Royal sources) likened the case to the hounding of William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, by paparazzi before her untimely death in 1997,” the Associated Press reported.
The fuzzy photos show Kate — the Duchess of Cambridge — wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom.
St. James’s Palace officials compared 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 August 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.
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 is already deeply chastened by a political 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.
A French lawyer who is an expert in media law said the royal couple had clear grounds for an invasion of privacy case against the magazine.
“French magistrates take into account the victim’s behavior, when the person is flaunting themselves on camera. Kate Middleton will get damages because she’s not behaving in this way,” said the lawyer, Anne Pigeon-Bormans.
If the couple’s lawsuit reaches court and if the magazine is found guilty, it could face a fine of up to €45,000 (about $60,000). Potential criminal sanctions include up to a year in prison, according to French law. Last week, French first lady Valerie Trierweiler won a judgment of €2,000 ($2,580) after the publication of photos of her in a bikini.