Duke and Duchess win pay-out over topless pictures

Royal couple receive 100,000 euros in damages from French Court

Following a trial in France, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have each been awarded 50,000 Euros as a result of French magazine Closer printing topless pictures of Kate Middleton while the couple were on holiday in Provence in 2012. The magazine, a distinct publication from the UK Closer, ran long-lens images of Kate sunbathing on a terrace taken by a paparazzo.

A statement from Prince William was read at the trial. The Duke said: “The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy.” The invasion of privacy was “all the more painful” given the experience of his mother, Princess Diana, with the paparazzi, he added.

In addition, the presiding Judge fined Closer magazine’s editor and owner 45,000 euros each – the maximum amount allowed – and instructed La Provence, another publication which ran pictures of Kate in her swimwear, to pay 3,000 euros in damages. The agency photographers, who had denied taking the photographs, were fined 10,000 euros each.

As the prosecution of those responsible shows, privacy law is governed by different rules in France to those in England and Wales. Private and family life is protected by Article 9 of the French Civil Code, and the Criminal Code also provides sanctions for offences against privacy, including any wilful violation of a person’s private life, which is the basis on which the prosecution was brought.

Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess had sought 1.6 million euros in damages. This would have been a punitive or exemplary award of damages, which might have acted as a real deterrent to a publication considering doing something similar in the future. The level of fines ultimately handed down by the French Court although substantial, were not increased to reflect the victims’ royal status and instead remained in line with previous French cases.