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Irish Daily Star publishes topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess was 'saddened' by the news of the pictures Photo: Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Republic of Ireland edition of The Irish Daily Star has published photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless while on holiday with the Duke of Cambridge in France.

Defending the action, the tabloid's editor Michael O'Kane, told the BBC:

The Duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga.

She's not the future queen of Ireland so really the only place this is causing fury seems to be in the UK, and they are very very tasteful pictures.

The pictures did not feature in the Northern Ireland or UK editions of the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for St James's Palace said: "There can be no motivation for this action other than greed."

Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern Shell, who are co-owners of the newspaper said that he was taking "immediate steps" to end the joint venture with Independent News and Media

I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture.

The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.

– Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern Shell

Earlier, in a statement, Northern Shell said they have no editorial control over the publication and they "abhor" the decision to publish the photographs.

They added: "We very much regret the distress it has caused".

On Friday, the palace described the publication of the photos of Kate in French magazine Closer as a "grotesque and totally unjustifiable" invasion of privacy and announced that the royal couple is suing its publishers.

Despite this, Italian magazine Chi is also set to published the photos, it was reported today.

It is understood to be planning a 26-page photo special of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on holiday in the south of France, to run in an edition next week.

Its editor Alfonso Signorini said: "The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical.

"This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love."

A spokeswoman for St James's Palace later said about the photos being published in Chi magazine:

We will not be commenting on potential legal action concerning the alleged intended publication of the photos in Italy save to say that all proportionate responses will be kept under review.

Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative's home."

– St James's Palace spokesman
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a research centre in the Borneo rainsforest on Saturday. Credit: Reuters

Both Chi and the French edition of Closer are published by the Mondadori media group, which is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The British edition of Closer has distanced itself from the decision made by its French counterpart, which is run by a different company.

A number of British newspapers have been offered the photos but so far are unanimous in their condemnation of them being published.

In an editorial comment today The Sun said they were "grossly intrusive pictures that no decent British paper would touch with a bargepole".

The publication in the French magazine was compared by St James's Palace to the worst experiences of Diana, Princess of Wales at the hands of the paparazzi.

The palace led a chorus of protests, describing the invasion of privacy as "grotesque and totally unjustifiable".

St James's Palace confirms that legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge against the Publishers of Closer Magazine France.

– St James's Palace spokesman

The pictures were allegedly taken while Kate was on holiday with her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, in France last week.

ITV News has obscured the pictures published by the French Closer magazine. Credit: ITV News

Under the headline "Oh my God!", the photos show the couple soaking up the sun on the balcony of a 19th century hunting lodge, oblivious to lurking paparazzi.

At the time of the magazine's publication St James's Palace 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.

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.

Laurence Pieau, editor of Closer France magazine, told Europe Correspondent Emma Muphy that she was unrepentant about publishing the photographs of Kate:

"[They are] beautiful pictures of an in love couple in the south of France, and they are marvellous, wonderful and relaxed."

Asked if she thought the pictures abused the couple's privacy, Pieau said:

"Not really, because they are sunbathing on a terrace with a view from the road. For everybody who passed on the road, it was possible to see them."

The front page of today's issue of Closer France read: "The Duchess of Cambridge topless on the terrace of a guest house in the Luberon!"

The full text:

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!

The pictures come in the wake of the pictures of Prince Harry cavorting naked in a Las Vegas hotel room, which were published by the Sun, despite a request from St James' Palace for the British media to not publish the pictures.

Understandably we have had a lot of messages this morning about the decision by Closer magazine in France to publish pictures of Kate Middleton.

To clarify, this is the facebook page for Closer UK, published by Bauer media, and an entirely different magazine to Closer France.

Closer France is published under licence by Italian business Mondadori, and Closer magazine UK would like to make it clear that the two publications make entirely independent editorial decisions.

– Closer Magazine

Closer UK publishers Bauer later said it would review the terms of its license agreement with Closer France.

Downing Street commented that the royal couple were "entitled to their privacy", however the Palace was dealing with the fallout from their publication.

The publication provoked many Twitter users this morning including Rosa Monckton, a friend of Princess Diana, who tweeted her anger about the publication:

She later told ITV News exclusively that publishing the pictures was "completely unacceptable":

It is history repeating itself. It seems as we have learnt nothing from history.

Everyone had made a promise to change the media's behaviour but nothing has changed. The expectations on the Royal Family are huge, so they should be allowed to have privacy.

I saw it first hand and it has to stop.

Diana said there was a distinct line between her private life and her incumbent duty, and so the media should also take this into account.

– Rosa Monckton

Journalists equally opposed the idea. Kevin Maguire, the Daily Mirror's associate editor tweeted:

Despite the publication, a press secretary to the Duke and Duchess said that they would "remain focused" on their Diamond Jubilee tour through south-east Asia and the South Pacific.

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