Royal family in legal battle with Berlusconi-owned tabloid


The royal family have always been one of the main interests of the press, and have struggled with paparazzi photographers for many years. The death of Princess Diana in Paris has largely been blamed on intrusive paparazzi who were following her car with their ever-clicking lenses, despite her attempts and expressed wishes not to be photographed.
Recently, photographs taken of Prince Harry at a private party in Las Vegas circulated the web and were published by The Sun. Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had enough and are taking legal action over photographs taken of the Duchess whilst on a private holiday at Provence, in the south of France.

Holiday in private chateau

William and Kate were visiting the Queen's nephew, Lord Linley, at his private chateau. The French gossip magazine Closer has published images of the Duchess sunbathing topless on one of the chateau's balconies with the Duke. The pictures appear to have been taken at a long distance, and neither the Duke nor the Duchess had given their consent, nor were they aware of the fact that they were being photographed.
The magazine is owned by Italy's former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.  On Friday, the royal couple brought legal proceedings in France for breach of privacy.

Legal action in France

The couple's legal action can put the magazine and its editor in trouble, as France has very stringent privacy laws. If the courts find for the royal couple then it is a real possibility that the magazine will not only be ordered to pay damages, but also that the editor will be sentenced to jail.
Following the French magazine's publication, the Italian gossip magazine Chi decided to publish further private pictures of the Duchess on Monday. It remains to be seen whether the royal couple will bring legal action in Italy.

What does this mean for the legal situation in England?

Tabloids in England chose not to publish the photographs of the royal couple on holiday. In relation to the images published of Prince Harry, editors of some of the main national papers had agreed to not publish them, but The Sun still did so.
The English press is currently under scrutiny by Lord Justice Leveson, who has been commissioned by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to look into press standards and their practices. The question of whether the media needs to be further regulated is an issue receiving more attention, and support, in light of the recently published images.
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