LONDON — Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine are to lodge a criminal complaint in France over the taking and publishing of topless photographs which appeared in a French magazine, a palace spokeswoman said Sunday.
“We can confirm that a criminal complaint is to be made to the French Prosecution Department tomorrow (Monday),” a St James’s Palace spokeswoman said, adding that the action was in addition to civil proceedings against French magazine Closer.
“The complaint concerns the taking of photographs of the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge whilst on holiday and the publication of those photographs in breach of their privacy,” she said.
The spokeswoman said the royal couple want criminal charges to be brought against the photographer who took the photos as well as the magazine which published them.
She said it would be up to French prosecutors to decide whether to investigate and pursue the complaint.
Earlier the Palace said it would seek an injunction at a court hearing in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Monday to prevent further publication of the pictures before taking further civil action for damages.
In a fresh blow to the royal couple the images appeared again in Saturday’s Irish Daily Star.
“There can be no motivation for this action other than greed,” said a spokesman for William, who is second in line to the throne, and his wife, the former Kate Middleton.
Italian gossip magazine Chi, meanwhile, is planning to devote 26 pages to the grainy paparazzi photographs in a special issue on Monday — a move the palace said would heap “unjustifiable upset” on Catherine.
Both Closer and Chi are published by the Mondadori Group, part of the media empire of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The company backed both magazines’ decisions to print the photos, which were taken with a long lens while William and Catherine, both 30, were holidaying at a private chateau in the south of France.
Berlusconi’s daughter and company chairwoman Marina defended publication of the photos as a matter of editorial freedom in a letter addressed to the left-leaning daily newspaper La Repubblica.
“Mondadori, of which I am chairwoman, is a publishing house that uses in the best way possible this freedom and this independence that shareholders have always recognised. On this occasion as in others, Mondadori has confined itself to doing its job,” she wrote.
— ‘True value of a scoop’ —
Mondadori also said in a statement that “the editors of both titles decided to publish the photos because their content is a clear expression of the news, they depict a true event, and they do not undermine the people photographed.”
Chi magazine’s editor Alfonso Signorini said the pictures were “a scoop” he could not afford to miss.
“If I wasn’t capable of recognising the true value of a scoop I would do better to go and sell artichokes at the market,” he told the ANSA news agency.
A palace spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the royal family was launching legal action against either Chi or the Irish Daily Star.
Unlike Mondadori, the two media groups that jointly own the Irish Daily Star condemned the newspaper’s decision to run the pictures.
Britain’s Northern and Shell group said it was taking “immediate steps” to shut down the joint venture with Dublin-based publisher Independent News and Media which runs the Irish Daily Star.
“The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern and Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” said the company’s chairman Richard Desmond.
Independent News and Media said it had no prior knowledge of the decision, which it described as “regrettable and in poor taste”.
The prince is said to be furious over the images, which drew comparisons with press harassment of his mother Diana who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 while pursued by paparazzi.
In a strongly worded statement, palace officials described the topless pictures as a “grotesque” breach of privacy, “reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana”.
The palace has said the couple “remain focused” on their nine-day southeast Asian and Pacific tour marking Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne, which on Sunday took them to the Solomon Islands.
Pacific warriors gave the couple a ceremonial welcome in the capital Honiara where they attended a Jubilee Thanksgiving cathedral service before heading to a traditional island feast in the Government House gardens.
The couple are also to make a short stop in Tuvalu, one of the world’s smallest independent nations, lying about halfway between Australia and Hawaii.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons licensed]