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Magazine Fined for Topless Kate Middleton Photos

// News // World News

A French magazine has been fined for publishing topless photographs of Britain's likely future queen, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and ordered not to distribute the magazine in print or online, a French court ruled Tuesday.

The court ordered Closer magazine to hand over the original photos to the royal family within 24 hours of the ruling and to pay them 2,000 euros (about $2,600).

The magazine must pay a further 10,000 euros a day if it is late in handing over the photos.

And a French prosecutor opened a preliminary criminal investigation into the incident, the Nanterre prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

Catherine and her husband, Prince William, the second in line to the throne, "welcome the injunction that's been granted. They always believed the law was broken and that they were entitled to their privacy," the palace said.

French law provides for "draconian sanctions" to protect against invasions of privacy, British lawyer Charlotte Harris said, including orders to take magazines off shelves and the imposition of serious fines.

Separately, the board of a newspaper that published the topless photos will meet Tuesday to consider closing the paper, it said.

The Irish Daily Star published the photos Saturday, and the meeting comes after an editor of the newspaper was suspended pending an investigation.

The royal family filed a criminal complaint seeking invasion of privacy charges against the French magazine Closer and possibly the photographer, a palace spokeswoman said.

The photos of Catherine sunbathing are more about invasion of privacy rather than nudity, royal biographer Christopher Andersen said.

Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, still blame the media for the 1997 death of their mother, Princess Diana, in a Paris traffic accident as her driver fled paparazzi, Andersen said. French investigators concluded the driver of the car Diana was traveling in lost control while he was intoxicated.

The royal family is concerned about similar invasions, particularly if William and Catherine have a child, Andersen said.

In a civil court proceeding Monday in Paris, attorneys for the royals asked for damages and a court order to prevent the photos from being published again.

They also want existing photos taken offline, a palace spokesman said.

The court ruled in their favor on both counts Tuesday.

Lawyer Aurelien Hamelle denounced the published photos in court Monday, calling them an infringement of privacy, CNN affiliates reported.

"It is a scene of married life, intimate, personal, that has nothing to do on a magazine" Hamelle said.

Chi, an Italian magazine owned by the same company as Closer, put out a special edition Monday with 26 pages of photos of William and Catherine on vacation.

As editors at Closer did last week, Chi executives defended publishing the photos despite the furor from London.

"It is a story worth publishing in an extraordinary edition because it shows in a natural light the everyday life of a very famous contemporary young couple in love," Editor-in-Chief Alfonso Signorini said in a statement.

Chi and Closer are owned by the Mondadori publishing company, which is headed by Marina Berlusconi, daughter of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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