Prince William’s wife, Catherine, yesterday faced growing embarrassment over topless photographs after an Italian magazine said it would follow its French sister publication in printing them.
The British royals launched legal action on Friday against French magazine Closer — which is part of the media empire of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi — after it published paparazzi snaps of Catherine sunbathing with her husband.
The royal family may have hoped to contain the scandal by swiftly suing Closer — but Chi, an Italian weekly also published by Berlusconi’s Mondadori Group, announced late on Friday that it planned to print a special issue tomorrow devoting 26 pages to the candid pictures of the former Kate Middleton.
The pictures were taken while she was on holiday with her husband, the second-in-line to the British throne, in France this month.
Closer editor Laurence Pieau was quoted by British tabloid the Sun yesterday as saying her magazine had more pictures that it had not printed yet.
“Intimate pictures exist that we haven’t published and will not publish,” she told the newspaper. “Probably other newspapers will choose to publish them.”
A version of the front cover of Chi showed some of the photographs with the headline “The Queen is Naked!”
“The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical,” Chi editor Alfonso Signorini told reporters.
“This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love,” he said.
Closer is published under a licensing agreement between Bauer Media and Mondadori, which bought the title in 2006.
Berlusconi, who part-owns the Mondadori Group, is himself no stranger to scandals involving revealing photographs taken by paparazzi.
He launched legal action against the Spanish newspaper El Pais in 2009 over pictures of topless women lounging at his holiday villa.
William and Catherine, both 30, are suing Closer for invasion of privacy over the pictures, which show Catherine sunbathing in just her bikini bottoms by a pool and William rubbing suncream into her bottom.
The images evoked memories of the press harassment of William’s mother, Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash as she was pursued through Paris by paparazzi.
William is believed to blame the paparazzi for his mother’s death.
Palace officials said the royals, who are currently visiting Malaysia, considered the pictures published by Closer to be a “grotesque” breach of privacy.
“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,” their office at St James’ Palace said. “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.”
Later, the royal family confirmed that “legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge against the publishers of Closer magazine, France.”
Pieau said Closer has no regrets about printing the pictures.
“These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches,” she said.