Privacy laws

Why the Royals are right to take legal action over topless photos…

As it’s confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to launch legal action against the French magazine that printed topless photos of her, we examine why we believe this was the right move. Privacy laws

While no-one ever wants to take legal action – and don’t forget the Palace did not launch any legal action over naked photos of Prince Harry that appeared on website TMZ last month – the Palace is reported to have said, “a line has been crossed’.

Apart from one paper, the British press did not print the Prince Harry photos – but there were those who felt they should have been allowed to do so. This is because some people believed printing those pictures would have been in the public interest – after all, where were the detectives being paid by the taxpayer to protect Prince Harry from this sort of thing?

Should the Duchess have gone topless? Join in our Poll …

But in this case there is little room for doubt that this is a gross invasion of the Duchess Of Cambridge’s privacy – and we can’t imagine any editor we know of even imagining printing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge could ever be in the public interest. After all not only were the photos taken in a private place with a long lens camera, she was with her husband. Sunbathing as she was with William to avoid getting a tan line is hardly shameful.

Admittedly we are surprised she was sunbathing topless because although it was fashionable in the 70s and 80s, most young women these days seem to prefer to keep their tops on (you only seem to see women of a certain age topless these days.) You can also argue that as a member of the Royal family she can never expect to live a ‘normal’ life and therefore she might have thought more about whether sunbathing topless was a good idea at all.

However, she was doing nothing controversial, nothing unusual. And everyone is not only entitled to privacy but their private life should be respected and off-limits.

One of the biggest issues of course is that now it hardly matters whether these photos are printed in the UK anyway. Anyone with an internet connection can see copies online – the internet is world on its own that is impossible to control.

However, we feel if the Royals did not take action against the French magazine, then who’s to say something similar wouldn’t happen again? At the time of writing, it was already being reported that the Irish Daily Star has printed a set of topless photos and another Italian magazine, Chi, which is owned by the same publishing house as the French magazine, is now planning to print further more intimate photos. So it’s important the line must be drawn clearly that the Royal family is clear this sort of invasion of privacy won’t be accepted.

Would any publication in the UK ever print photos like this? We think that would be a disastrous move. Even if there were no privacy laws in place so no legal restraints to stop them (and photos on private property of people taken with long lenses are simply not placeable or saleable in the UK) many readers would no doubt feel extremely uncomfortable at seeing these sort of hugely intrusive pictures in their daily paper. Any editor would risk a huge public outcry that the photos had even appeared and they could risk a big backlash with readers boycotting their publication.

Will it be worth all the trouble for the French magazine Closer (which has no connection whatsoever with the excellent Closer in the UK)?
Yes despite their grainy and poor quality photos, they might have gained a few extra readers today. After all, many people will until now not have even known this magazine abroad existed. But in the long term who wants to be known as the magazine that printed invasive pictures like these? As no-one in the UK would have printed them, it is hardly a scoop.

Meanwhile, what is important to remember here is this has happened in France and not the UK, where we believe the press will be as quick to condemn these pictures as The Palace is itself.

Read more: Should the Duchess have posed topless at all?
They are ‘splendid’ photos: French editor defends and justifies publication
UK Closer stresses it is an entirely different publication from French Closer

What do you think? Are the Royals, as French Closer claims, making too much fuss about these photos? In her position as a Royal should Kate have kept her top on anyway? Do you agree the magazine should be sued? Let us know your thoughts below…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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