What does it say about royalty as an institution when those who are “highest” — kings, queens, princes, and such — can be harassed, hounded, haunted, hunted, and exploited by those who are lowest — such as tabloid magazines? The Italian magazine Chi and the French magazine Closer, both owned by Italian former prime minister Silvio Burlosconi, and edited by Alfonso Signorini, have recently released issues of their magazine featuring photos of Prince William’s wife Catherine sunbathing topless on the balcony of their French chateau.
The blurry and poor quality photos were taken by some skulking spy from the shadows, and it may very well have been photographer Valerie Suau, AKA “Sewer,” who admits to taking pictures of the couple at the hotel but won’t own up to the nude ones, but who has nevertheless gone into hiding.
“The queen is nude!” headlines the tasteless magazine, in what its editor calls “extraordinary reportage” featuring the photos alongside the testimony of a plastic surgeon debating on wither “Kate’s breast [are] nature or fake?”
No publication in England has picked up the inappropriate photos, but Prince Williams is hitting Berlusconi’s publication hard. Their lawyer Aurelien Hammelle has been instructed to put as much pressure on them as possible. He’s said that “She’s a young woman, not an object,” and has established an emergency suit to bar the magazines from any further publication, even including criminal charges — the royal couple requested to seek “the stiffest punishments possible” — which would include a one year prison sentence for the photographer and the editor. The magazine would also have to pay a fine, make an apology, and cease all use of the photos.
Nevertheless, Signorini said he wouldn’t cease publishing further photos even if the Queen herself called. “For the first time, the future queen of England was appearing in a natural way, without the constraints of etiquette,” he rationalized. Their publication had also printed the photos taken by the paparazzi who hounded Diana to her death in a high-speed car-chase, taking photos as the princess died rather than trying to help her. Chi published the photos along with details from her autopsy.
Signori further defended his actions by saying that “I am a director of a newspaper, not a supermarket, I don’t sell artichokes and carrots, I sell photographic scoops.
“If I had not published them I would not be paid for the job I do. Above all, I published them for various reasons, as a journalistic scoop, it satisfies the curiosity of readers, it s the first time that the future Queen of England has been pictured in such a way.
“They are natural pictures, there is no morbidity about them, there is nothing that could affect the dignity of the person involved, the Duchess of Cambridge.
“Lastly, they were taken on a public road by photographers on public land. The Duchess was sunbathing on a terrace, sadly for her.
“The Italian privacy laws say that we can quite happily taken pictures from a public road, of personalities, exposed places, in open air.”
Why the photographs would be “sad for her,” if “there is nothing that could affect [her] dignity” is unclear; but the claims that photographing royalty nude is “extraordinary reporting,” doing a social good — that such claims could be made with a straight face at all — demonstrate that the time in history when monarchies were created is completely different than our social arrangement now, which for many people has no further awe or respect for royal persons.