The topless photos of Kate Middleton published in French magazine “Closer" likely violate French privacy laws.
And despite the possibility of hefty legal fines, the mag will probably still profit, according to the BBC's analysis.
“While the French are sniffy about the tabloid culture in Britain, many celebrity magazines have been publishing these kind of pictures for years. France is the home of one of the oldest celebrity magazines in the world -- 'Paris Match,'” wrote Paris correspondent Christian Fraiser. “But these days there are raunchier titles, like 'Closer,' 'Public' and 'Voici,' who unashamedly indulge in the celebrity gossip. And they budget for the legal payouts which in this case are seemingly inevitable.”
The aforementioned grainy images, depicting the Duchess of Cambridge wearing only the bottom half of her bikini, were snapped with a long camera lens (read: Peeping Tom equipment) while the royals were vacationing in a private chateau in Provence, France.
By Friday afternoon, a palace spokesperson announced the couple planned to sue "Closer," while the magazine's editor defended the decision to publish, calling the shots “beautiful" and claiming their subject was visible from a nearby street.
Meanwhile, “Only in Closer: Kate and William, their hot vacation in Provence” remained the most-read item on the mag's website Friday.
So, who will win the legal dispute? Precedent points to Will and Kate.
Max Mosley, former president of Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, sued the now-defunct British tabloid “News of the World” in 2011 for publishing photos of him surrounded by prostitutes at a sex party, according to the Guardian. Because the tabloid was distributed in France, Mosley won, and "News of the World" was fined $16,200 and told to pay $11,300 damages with nearly $24,000 in legal fees.
"Closer" has apparently breached the privacy of the the royal couple and could face prosecution under criminal law for "fixing, recording or transmitting the image of a person in a private place without their consent,” the Guardian reported. The maximum sanction is imprisonment and a $73,000 fine.
In related news, British newspaper "The Sun" published photos of a nude Prince Harry partying in Vegas in August -- but because U.K. privacy laws are much more lax, the paper is protected where "Closer" probably isn't.