'Provocative’ pictures of Meghan Markle show payout over topless Kate Middleton photos was wrong, magazine to argue

David Chazan
Meghan Markle starred in an advert for Men's Health magazine in 2013

Provocative advertising photographs and video footage featuring Meghan Markle will be used by French lawyers on Wednesday to support their claim that the £92,000 in damages awarded to the Duchess of Cambridge for topless photos should be drastically reduced.

Lawyers for France’s Closer magazine are appealing against the compensation granted by a French court last year for photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing during a private holiday with Prince William in the south of France, which it published in 2012.

The couple said they had been unaware of the presence of paparazzi who used long lenses to take the pictures without being noticed.

Closer’s lawyers will argue that it is “hypocritical” to award such a large sum to the Duke and Duchess when other members of the Royal family “are happy with sexy photos”, according to sources close to the case.

In lodging the appeal, Paul-Albert Iweins, for Closer, argued that the court’s decision last year was “consistent with case law” but that the damages awarded were “exaggerated for a simple matter of privacy”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were awarded damages for long-lens paparazzi pictures taken of them on a private beach Credit: AFP

Token sums of less than £100 are often awarded for breaches of privacy in France.

Mr Iweins was unavailable for comment before the hearing at the Versailles Appeals Court.

Laurence Pieau, Closer’s editor, and Ernest Mauria, the director of the Mondadori group that publishes the magazine, were each fined £42,000. Two photographers, who deny taking the pictures, were fined £8,500 each. The royal couple had asked for £1.4 million in compensation, but after the award by a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, Kensington Palace said they considered the case closed.

Closer’s legal team are expected to produce in court footage of Meghan Markle removing items of clothing before seductively posing in shorts in a video called Grilling Never Looked So Hot, to make the case that female members of the Royal family have willingly posed for revealing images.

French magazine Closer will argue that the advert shows members of the Royal family are 'happy with sexy photos'

The footage was shot for Men’s Health magazine in 2013, during her career as an actress before she became the Duchess of Sussex.

Other photographs allegedly showing her topless on a beach may also be produced. The images, also taken before she joined the Royal family, are widely available online. Kensington Palace sources say they were tampered with and may have been taken without her knowledge. The Palace declined to comment on the current proceedings.

Sources close to the case said younger members of the Royal family were increasingly behaving like celebrities, and suggested they were leaving themselves open to the same sort of media attention experienced by film and sports stars.

“They’re happy with sexy photos when they’re in control but then demand huge amounts in compensation when the pictures are unauthorised,” said a legal source. “This is unwarranted and frankly hypocritical.”

The damages for the topless photographs of the Duchess were awarded in September after five years of legal proceedings. The photographs were taken at a Provence chateau owned by the Earl of Snowdon.