It’s hard to look at television or internet news without catching a headline or two about the topless photos of Kate Middleton that are now circulating, and the Royal Family’s aggressive measures to try to stop their publication. So is the publication of these photos of Britain’s newest duchess and invasion of privacy, or the price of fame for the Royal Couple?
The answer is yes.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were photographed sunbathing at a private villa in the South of France. They surely thought they were well-clear of the paparazzi’s lens when Kate decided to doff her bikini top and tan her tatas. But instead, one or more members of the paparazzi—who claim they were photographing from the street and not hidden in the bushes—snapped several dozen photos of the couple. A French and an Irish gossip magazine have already published the photos, and Italy’s Chi magazine, owned by none other than notorious letch Silvio Berlusconi, published a 26-page spread of the grainy, repetitive pics.
The now-suspended editor of the Irish Daily Star defended the decision to publish the photos, saying that Ms. Middleton is “not the future Queen of Ireland,” and thus, no different from any other celebrity. And, he has a point. Where is the line between celebrity and royalty—especially if they’re not your royalty—when royal weddings are televised, million dollar affairs, and collateral products sold are emblazoned with the royal couple’s photos? Is this a royal family that wishes to stay out of the spotlight? And if the royals wish to stay popular and relevant with their “subjects”—in Britain and beyond—do they get to pick and choose what kind of publicity they get? Few celebrities or politicians pull that kind of clout with the media.
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On the other hand, the British Royal Family, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world still live in the haunting shadow of Princess Diana, who was hounded to death—figuratively and quite literally—by the paparazzi. So it’s no wonder they seek to protect the newest, and perhaps most vulnerable, figure in the royal household. Like Diana, Kate Middleton is beautiful, fashionable, photogenic, influential and sought-after. And, like Diana, she’s finding out that both her privacy and the discretion of the press are no longer guaranteed.
Perhaps it’s a question of degrees, as well. The photos of Middleton are taken from a long distance and are grainy, though it’s clear that they are of her and Prince William. But we’re not talking Kim Kardashian sex tape here. While they capture an intimate moment, they are not salacious in the least. Embarrassing? Most certainly. But scandalous? Not so much. Yet by fighting their publication and threatening lawsuits left and right, the Royal Family is just upping the value of the photos and piquing international curiosity all the more. Why not follow Ms. Middleton’s dignified lead, and keep mum and carry on with her official duties and public appearances?
The princess and the peeping paparazzi have dominated headlines for nearly a week now, and it’s not like there haven’t been other things going on in the world. An American ambassador killed in Libya. A civil war raging in Syria. A teachers’ strike in Chicago. Oh, and an election to decide the presidency of the United States. A handful of nearly identical photos of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless just shouldn’t be the leading news item. Kate Middleton has lovely breasts. Now let’s move on.