AN ITALIAN magazine is set to follow a French publication in printing the photographs of Kate Middleton topless in a special issue next week.
Gossip magazine Chi is understood to be planning a 26-page photo special of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on holiday in the south of France.
Despite the royals describing the publication of the photos of Kate in French magazine Closer yesterday as a "grotesque and totally unjustifiable" invasion of privacy, and the announcement that the royal couple will sue its publishers, unconfirmed reports said Chi still planned to print the images,.
Closer and Chi are both part of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori media group.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last night took the unprecedented step of starting legal proceedings over topless pictures which they regard as a “grotesque” invasion of privacy.
The royal couple reacted with “anger and disbelief” after the French magazine Closer printed a series of photographs of the Duchess sunbathing in Provence last week.
They pressed ahead with a series of engagements in Malaysia yesterday but spent every spare minute in talks with aides.
After flying to Borneo, where the couple should have been preparing for a trek through the jungle, they stayed up until midnight working on the details of the lawsuit before St James’s Palace issued a statement confirming that they would be suing the magazine and its publisher.
It is the first time a senior member of the Royal family has sued in a foreign court to protect their privacy, and if the case goes before a judge it will be the first time any such hearing has taken place.
The Duke has always insisted he would not allow his wife to be hounded in the way his mother was, and earlier released a statement that likened the actions of Closer to “the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales”.
Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, claimed to be taken aback by the “hullabaloo”, saying: “It’s as if we had killed Princess Diana a second time.” She also boasted the pictures would “go round the world”, and declared: “We won’t be the only ones to publish them.”
Last night a senior royal source said that preventing the pictures appearing elsewhere was part of the objective of taking legal action. The Duke and Duchess were photographed at the Chateau D’Autet, owned by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew, where they were staying during a short break ahead of their nine-day tour of the Far East.
Closer, which is owned by a firm run by the daughter of Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, claimed the pictures were taken from a public road from which the house and its swimming pool were visible. France has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, which may have been a consideration for the couple.
The Duke and Duchess made no attempt to conceal their fury in a statement released by St James’s Palace yesterday morning, saying they had “every expectation of privacy” in the remote Chateau, and that publication of the photographs was “unthinkable”. The statement added that the Duke and Duchess had been “hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner”.
Closer, which has no connection to the British magazine of the same name, published 11 topless pictures. It also alleged that the Duchess smoked a cigarette, which royal aides said was “highly unlikely” as she has never been a smoker.
Diana, Princess of Wales was the last senior member of the Royal family to begin legal proceedings for breach of privacy, when she sued the owner of a gym for selling pictures taken using a concealed camera. The case was settled out of court, meaning that if the Duke and Duchess’s case goes before a judge, they will be setting a precedent.
Two years ago, the Duchess showed her determination to protect her privacy when she took legal action over pictures of her playing tennis. The picture agency agreed out of court to pay £5,000 damages plus costs, and apologised.
In 1999, the Countess of Wessex suffered similar embarrassment, when The Sun printed an 11-year-old picture of her topless. The newspaper apologised after Buckingham Palace accused it of “premeditated cruelty”.