Kate topless photos condemned, but is there a hint of hypocrisy?
Public outraged at French magazine's pictures, but how many are searching internet to see them?
FRENCH magazine Closer has been roundly condemned for publishing topless photographs of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
St James's Palace, in an unusually forceful statement, said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge "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".
Press reports suggest we might not have heard the last of this, with Prince William seriously considering legal action - a bid that could prove fruitful in France, which has stricter privacy laws than Britain. However, the Daily Mail reports that it is currently just as likely that the royals will "let public opinion take its course".
If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take the latter option, they will be heartened to know that the court of public opinion has already passed a damning judgement on Closer.
"The royal boobs have apparently been seen," writes The New Statesman's Steven Baxter. "It might seem comical, or silly, or daft, a discussion that prompts sniggering and adolescent chortles. But with every fresh photo set there's a testing of boundaries going on and a new stripping away of privacy - not just of celebrities, but of all of us."
Baxter predicts online searches for 'Kate Middleton topless photos' will be going through the roof today.
"People want to see," he writes. But this is a dangerous attitude. "One day it's Kate, the next it might be you with a lens hidden half a mile away taking pictures of what you're up to. If you buy into the celebrity photos, you're throwing away your own privacy."
The Daily Telegraph's Willard Foxton takes exception to Closer's flippant teaser for the Kate photographs, which reads: "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!"
Foxton writes: "It's a revolting description of a couple doing something perfectly normal in a private house. I think it's a repellent thing to do."
It is clear that it would have been foolhardy for any British tabloid to accept the topless photographs, but as The Guardian's Roy Greenslade explains, the British tabloids really had no choice. To publish would have put the papers in breach of the editors' code of practice.
He explains that The Sun was able to construct a "paper thin" argument for publishing the pictures of Prince Harry naked in Las Vegas by saying the photos were already all over the internet and there were security implications.
Such an argument wouldn't wash with the Middleton pictures, because she was in a place where she had "a reasonable expectation of privacy".
Twitter, meanwhile, was united in outrage against Closer.
The Independent's owner, Evgeny Lebedev, said: "Utter disgrace that a mid-market French rag has invaded Kate Middleton's privacy like this. Gutter press morality."
And legal blogger David Allen Green said: "Not a royalist, but for grief's sake give Kate Middleton some privacy. No person should have to face such photos being published."