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Appalling invasion of Kate's privacy

The topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge, which were published in a French magazine, represent what is by any yardstick, an appalling invasion of her privacy.

The pictures, which were taken last month when the duchess was on a private holiday in France with her husband, should never have been published.

When such pictures are published the usual justification is that those whose privacy is being violated are somehow "public figures" and this justifies just about any sort of photographic intrusion.

In the case of the British royals, who receive over £30m a year from the UK taxpayer courtesy of the Civil List and other grants, this is clearly a more valid defence than it would be in the case of a minor celebrity.

The mealy-mouthed defence that, in an era of phone cameras, none of us has any privacy anyway has predictably been wheeled out in an effort to justify the publication of the photographs.

However, even public figures are entitled to private lives. The duke and duchess were in France purely in a private capacity and were not on official state business.

As such, they were entitled to expect that their privacy would be respected.