PARIS – A French court on Tuesday banned Closer magazine from any further publication or distribution of photographs of the duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless and ordered that the pictures be returned to her within 24 hours.
The ban covered the distribution “by any means, in any format, to whomever, in whatever manner, including on tablet computers,” the court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre was quoted by French media as saying. The ruling was not made public.
Failure to comply with the injunction will result in a daily fine of $13,120.
Significantly, the court did not order Closer’s publisher Mondadori to pull copies of its September 14 issue from newspaper kiosks. Nor did it ban the magazine from reprinting the issue, which features five pages of paparazzi photographs of Prince William and Kate during a holiday at a private chateau in Provence.
The injunction marked a first victory for the royals in their battle to contain what the palace has called a “grotesque” invasion of their privacy, akin to the media hounding of William’s late mother Diana.
Separately from the injunction, prosecutors in Nanterre have also ordered a criminal investigation into the pictures, which have since been published by an Irish tabloid and an Italian gossip magazine.
Under French law, taking someone’s photograph in a private place without their consent is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $50,000, separate from any damages award.
Legal experts say Closer, its editor and the photographer who snapped Kate with a long lens and whom the magazine is refusing to name could all face charges.
Media outside France may, however, decide to take their chances and continue to brave the ire of the palace.
The royals have yet to say whether they will take action against Italy’s Chi magazine, which is also owned by the Mondadori group of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family, and the Irish Daily Star tabloid for splashing the pictures across their pages.
The commotion has overshadowed William and Kate’s nine-day Asia-Pacific tour to mark Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee.
The final leg of the tour took them to the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu on Tuesday.
Media reports said nearly half the population of 10,500 turned out to greet the couple, as they stepped off a chartered flight and were carried on multi-colored thrones to the Tuvalu parliament.