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PARIS - Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine on Friday launched a lawsuit against French magazine Closer for breaching their right to privacy by printing topless pictures of her, sources told AFP.
The grainy pictures of the couple on holiday in the south of France show Catherine, 30, wearing just the bottoms of a black and white bikini and having suncream rubbed on to her backside by William by the side of a swimming pool.
The royal couple were said by aides to be furious and hugely saddened over a "grotesque" invasion of their privacy, which evoked painful memories of press harassment of William's late mother Diana.
The legal suit was lodged with a court in Nanterre in the Paris suburbs, close to where the glossy magazine has its headquarters, according to sources close to the case.
Closer's editor Laurence Pieau has defended the publication of the photos, saying they were "not in the least shocking" and that she would be looking to sell them to other media outlets around the world.
Under French law, the magazine will almost certainly be found guilty of breaching the couple's privacy but it is unlikely to receive anything more than a fine.
Every person present in France has a right to privacy and can seek legal redress over the publication of images taken and published without their permission.
Theoretically, the publisher of the magazine or the editor could be given a one-year prison term, but there is no precedent for that and most similar cases result in publications being fined symbolic amounts well below the maximum of 45,000 euros.
The limited nature of the financial sanctions mean magazines like Closer, which sells 400,000 copies a week, can afford to ignore the law.