Kate topless pictures 'are not shocking', declares editor of France's Closer magazine

St James's Palace: 'The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales'

The editor of a French magazine that has shown topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge on its front cover has dismissed widespread condemnation of her decision to publish the images, insisting Prince Harry would now feel 'less alone' as the new edition hit the shelves this morning.

Laurence Pieau, editor of Closer magazine in France, decided to carry paparazzi pictures of a topless Kate relaxing with Prince William on the terrace of a private house in Provence last week.

Today she shrugged off the storm of criticism. She told ITV News: "These pictures show nothing shocking - they show a young woman sunbathing topless, as millions do on the beaches."

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She continued: "It's a coup to have these exclusive pictures, but what surprises me is the drama that's being made of the images - they're of a young couple in their swimming costumes, married for a year - of a young princess who in some of the pictures is topless.

"The criticism that's come out is very very stupid, they're a young couple on holiday on a terrace in a chateau in the south of France, and the terrace is visible from a public highway."

Writing last night on her Twitter page, Ms Pieau told her followers: "We can say that after tomorrow's Closer, Harry will feel less alone ..."

She added the ‘whole world would be talking’ about the pictures.

William and Kate were said to be feeling "anger and disbelief" at the publication of the photographs. The couple are currently on an official tour of Malaysia.

St James's Palace said the magazine had committed a "grotesque and unjustifiable" invasion of their privacy.

A palace statement read: "The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so."

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This set of pictures brings to the fore once more the privacy row prompted by images that emerged last month of Prince Harry partying naked in a Las Vegas hotel.

The Sun was the only British newspaper to ignore Press Complaints Commission advice not to publish photos of the prince.

This morning, Britain's Closer magazine distanced itself from the French publication, pointing out the French edition of the magazine is published by a different company to the British version.

A spokesman said: "Closer magazine UK is published by Bauer Consumer Media. The French edition meanwhile is published under a licence by a totally different company, an Italian business called Mondadori.

"Closer magazine UK would like to make it clear that the two publications make entirely independent editorial decisions. In this respect the comments made by the Editor of the French edition which have reported in the media today do not reflect the opinions of Closer magazine UK.

"Closer magazine UK was not offered any pictures of this nature and certainly has no intention of publishing the photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge which have been published in France this morning. Closer magazine UK takes its obligations under the PCC Code extremely seriously and would never publish topless images of a member of the Royal family on its cover or otherwise."

Closer's French website showed an image of its new front cover with a pixellated photograph of Kate in a bikini, seemingly about to remove her top.

But the print edition published unedited images this morning.

The full text accompanying the pictures reads: "A little more than a year after their marriage, the royal couple was offered a romantic getaway, far from the protocol and etiquette in their very own garden of Eden.

"Almost alone in the world … because Closer was there! After the Olé Olé holidays of Prince Harry in Las Vegas, discover the very sensual shots of Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William .

"Discover the incredible pictures of the future Queen of England as you’ve never seen her before… and as you will never see her again!"

Kate 'saddened' by topless photos The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be "saddened'' after a French magazine published photographs of Kate topless