For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The tasteless in pursuit of the topless: is this another Freedom Fries moment in French history?

Top Cat: not to be
confused with ...
It has been widely reported that Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge are close; this Kat remembers reading last week something along the lines that the Duchess of Cambridge is giving Prince Harry cooking lessons in exchange for some useful practical lessons on how to fly helicopters. However, this morning this Kat learnt that they have another thing in common: a scandal involving nude photographs taken on private holidays (on which see previous Katpost here).

Last week, and before their current Diamond Jubilee tour of South East Asia on behalf of the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were on holiday at the Chateau d’Aulet in Provence which is set on 640 acres and owned by the Queen’s nephew Lord Linley and his wife Serena. Photographs have since surfaced of the couple sunbathing, with the Duchess allegedly topless. Apparently blurry, they were taken with a long range lens so that the couple would not have even known that they were being photographed.

It was reported that the photos were offered to British papers last week, but that the latter all chivalrously turned them down. However, one picture desk executive on a national tabloid said the set of photos being touted around last week were different: ‘They were also long lens, but you couldn't see anything. These pictures nobody has seen, as far I am aware’.

French Closer magazine (owned by a different entity to British Closer magazine) did not have such reservations and has proceeded to publish the photographs. Laurence Pieau, editor of French Closer magazine, is reported as going as far as to say that the Duchess was ‘fully topless’ and that ‘the whole world would be talking’ about the pictures. The cover reads 'World Exclusive; Kate and William in Provence: Oh My God!' with pixilated versions of the photographs and inside the magazine devotes four pages to the story/photographs. Other text reads: 'A little more than a year after their marriage, the royal couple was offered a romantic getaway, far from the protocol and etiquette in their very own garden of Eden. Almost alone in the world ... because Closer was there! After the Olé Olé holidays of Prince Harry in Las Vegas, discover the very sensual shots of Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William’.

... Topless Kate
Unsurprisingly the Duke and Duchess were furious at the publication of the photographs by French Closer. This morning a statement was released by St James’s Palace:
“Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. 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. 
Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them. Officials acting on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to The Duke and Duchess. The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of the Queen".
At the same time British Closer magazine has distanced itself from the controversy. Its press release stated:
"Closer magazine UK is published by Bauer Media. The French edition meanwhile is published under a licence by a totally different company, an Italian business called Mondadori. Closer magazine UK would like to make it clear that the two publications make entirely independent editorial decisions. In this respect the comments made by the Editor of the French edition which have reported in the media today do not reflect the opinions of Closer magazine UK. Closer magazine UK was not offered any pictures of this nature and certainly has no intention of publishing the photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge which have been published in France this morning. Closer magazine UK takes its obligations under the PCC Code extremely seriously and would never publish topless images of a member of the Royal family on its cover or otherwise".
In an interview with BBC Radio, Neil Wallis former News of the World executive editor said:
"They won't get published in this country, and if I was still an editor I would not be publishing them. There's absolutely no chance whatsoever that they will be published in this country."
He further added that there was no justification to run with the images of the Duchess, whereas the publication of photographs of Prince Harry naked in a Las Vegas hotel suite was legitimate as it raised questions both about the security arrangements for the third in line to the British throne and also about his judgment.

France is known to have strict privacy laws. However, in recent times the courts appear reluctant to impose heavy penalties on publications who breach this right. The IPKat remembers that in November 2011 the 17th Chamber of the Tribunal Correctionnel de Paris ordered News Group Newspapers to pay a fine of €10,000 and €7,000 in damages to Mr Mosley for violating the 'intimacy of [his] private life' when it distributed approximately 3,000 copies of the News of the World in France in March 2008 with the infamous front page story 'F1 Boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers' (see Katpost here). As recently as last week, the IPKat notes that French first lady Valerie Trierweiler won a judgment of €2,000 after the publication of photographs of her in a bikini. For this reason, French Closer may have decided take the risk of a small fine and/or damages and publish the scoop.

The IPKat thinks that French Closer’s decision to publish the photographs of the Duchess will not only refresh a nation's sad memories of the untimely death of Princess Diana but will undoubtedly feature in the forthcoming Leveson Report on the culture, practice and ethics of the press. Will this be another Freedom Fries moment, he mewses.

Merpel, who would never go topless to avoid tan lines, thinks that the Duchess of Cambridge has every right to be ‘hurt, shocked, furious and disgusted’ and suggests that the Royals look somewhere else for next year's holiday: she's sure this sort of thing would never be allowed to happen in North Korea ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This story is also a very good example of why it is important to have a distinctive trade mark and get-up, particularly in countries which are less than 30 miles apart.

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