Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was last seen being borne through the streets of Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, in a vehicle decked out to look like a ceremonial canoe. Sweet scene, pure Gauguin. Now, that would have been a time to get the baps out … the native queen-to-be, moving among her people, like Venus arising from the waves …
Instead, the royal family is fighting desperately to stop the spread of a set of photos showing the Duchess sunbathing topless on the balcony of a French chateau. Published in the French magazine Closer, the photos were taken from a fair distance away, with a long lens.
That they breach French privacy laws has caused the publication to come under thereat of fine, albeit a rather piddling one, and its editor to be threatened with a prison term — which latter point has prompted said scribe to make a rather lame defence that the royal couple were not on private territory, “because there was a road nearby”.
Good luck with that — but good luck to the royals too, who initially decided to ignore the pictures, and then to go the full fang on them. By that point, Italian glossy Chi, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mondadori company, had announced its intention to republish the photos, even as papers in Great Britain hastily announced their decision to have nothing to do with them.
Across the sea, in Lesser Britain (geographical term), they weren’t so shy, with the Irish Daily Star deciding to run a selection — although just to be absolutely safe, they weren’t distributed in Northern Ireland, which they usually supply. The Star is sub-tabloid — a sort of infrared-top — which features stories of about 45 words apiece, n-ked birds, boy-eats-own-foot stories and … well look, you’ve seen the Brisbane Times.
The move has left the paper’s editorial staff somewhat exposed, with both owners of the paper — Independent News Media, and Richard Desmond’s Northern Shell — criticising the decision to publish. INM is a relatively straight company. Desmond made his fortune in p-rnography — from Penthouse to Readers’ Wives -- but it is he who has said how shocked, shocked he is to see bre-sts on the front page of the Star, instead of page three (four, five, six …) where they belong.
Indeed, so angry is he that he has threatened to close the paper — a decision that has nothing to do with the fact that he owns the UK Daily Star entire, and could simply distribute an Irish edition on the Emerald Isle, saving him a fortune.
Meanwhile, of course, the pictures are available so far up on Google, you can access them almost via an act of thought. The UK papers know that to publish the photos, with Lord Leveson still to deliver his recommendations for press regulation, would be suicide — but they are hemming and hawing about the publication of Prince Harry’s Las Vegas nudie shots in terms of “public interest … does our Prince have adequate security …” (or, indeed, support).
The keenest debate around this latest scandalette — aside from the spurious point that this is “Diana all over again!” — is whether legal moves against publication will create a Streisand effect, prompting the ceaseless proliferation of the bo-bs across the tubes. Alternatively, it may be that there still some worth in preventing the spread of such pics through the paper press, as a way of maintaining some form of push-back.
All a little tame really. What a pity they did not double-down on the thing, and argue that y’know mother of future monarch, need to know they will be well-fed, etc (Crikey’s commitment to freedom demands that I record 34B, with an areola-to-nipple ratio of about three on the Cheezel scale of 1-5).