The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have launched legal action against the French magazine Closer over its publication of topless pictures of the duchess, Clarence House has said.
The celebrity gossip magazine printed pictures of the duchess taken during the couple’s private holiday in France.
A royal spokesman said the legal proceedings had been launched in France and were for breach of privacy.
Closer’s editor said the couple were “visible from the street”.
“These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches,” said Laurence Pieau.
She described the reaction as “a little disproportionate”.
A spokesman for the couple, who are on a tour of South East Asia and the South Pacific to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, strongly condemned publication of the pictures.
The duke and duchess, who were staying at the French chateau of the Queen’s nephew, Lord Linley, “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”, said the spokesman for Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’s office.
The spokesman said the incident was “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”.
One royal official said the couple could not have chosen a more secluded spot in France for their private holiday.
The magazine’s website says the pictures are of the couple “like you have never seen them before. Gone are the fixed smiles and the demure dresses. On holiday Kate forgets everything.”
A royal spokesman said: “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.”
The BBC’s Peter Hunt said it was thought to be only the second time a royal had sued over such an issue.