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Kate, William file lawsuit after French magazine publishes topless photo

Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge  said Friday their privacy has been "invaded in a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner" after topless pictures of Kate were printed by a French magazine.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have filed a lawsuit against French magazine Closer for printing photos of what appears to be Kate, sunbathing topless. 

The suit alleges that Closer breached the couple's right to privacy, though the magazine insists it did not. St. James Palace confirmed Friday that "legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France," reports the Associated Press.

Blurry, long-lens shots of Kate, taken while she and William were on vacation in Provence, in the south of France last week, were printed in the gossip magazine on Friday.

A statement from the palace said the pair were "hugely saddened" by the publication, adding that William and Kate "had every expectation of privacy in the remote house" where they were sunbathing at the time the pictures were taken.

According to a report in Reuters, Closer's editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau defended the "beautiful series" of photos.

"There's been an over-reaction to these photos. What we see is a young couple, who just got married, who are very much in love, who are splendid," Pieau told French BFM television, adding that the magazine had more 'intimate' shots from the same series that it chose not to publish.

The news comes as the couple makes an official tour of Southeast Asia. Kate has been basking in the glow of rave reviews for her performing during her second overseas tour as a duchess — and just 24 hours after her heralded first public speech on the international stage.

William and Kate, who were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia early Friday, were told at breakfast about the embarrassing photographs, according to ITV News' Royal Correspondent Tim Ewart.

"The pictures almost certainly won't be published in Britain, although The Sun did print photographs of Prince Harry naked in Las Vegas," he reported. "It hardly matters, though. They will be readily available on the internet."

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The statement issued by St James’s Palace in London on Friday said:

Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner.

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.

Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.

Officials acting on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to the Duke and Duchess.

William, who was devastated by the death of his mother Princess Diana following a high-speed car chase by paparazzi in 1997, had hoped to shield his wife from the darker side of a life lived in public.

For the couple, who were vacationing at the home of a friend, the end of their honeymoon with some quarters of the media is sure to spark wider anger, especially given her pitch-perfect performance on this high-profile tour.

"The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu," a palace spokesperson said.

Sara James, NBC News, and ITV News contributed to this report.