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OTRC: Kate Middleton topless photos: French court orders magazine to hand over pictures

A French court has ruled in favor of the royal couple over the topless photos of Kate Middleton, known as the Duchess of Cambridge, published in France, Italy, Ireland and widely across the internet.

The court ruled on Tuesday, September 18, that Closer magazine -- the French tabloid which first published the photos on Friday, September 14 -- must hand over digital copies of the unauthorized photos within 24 hours, according to The Associated Press. The court also imposed a $2,500 fine and blocked further publication of the photos.

The photos show Middleton sunbathing topless on a balcony in Southern France, during a private vacation earlier in the month.

The ruling only affects the French magazine branch of Mondadori, Closer's publisher. The court also stopped the magazine from republishing the pictures - including on its website and its tablet app - as well as re-selling them. Mondadori faces a daily fine of euro10,000 ($13,100) if it fails to do so.

"These snapshots which showed the intimacy of a couple, partially naked on the terrace of a private home, surrounded by a park several hundred meters from a public road, and being able to legitimately assume that they are protected from passers-by, are by nature particularly intrusive," the French ruling said, according to the wire service. "(They) were thus subjected to this brutal display the moment the cover appeared."

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome the judge's ruling," a spokesperson for the royal couple said in a statement obtained by OTRC.com.

The royal couple is also filing a criminal complaint against 'X' - the unnamed photographer who took the picture in hopes to get the identity of the mystery photographer and prevent him or her from selling the photos to new outlets. The photographer could face a significant fine and a year in prison if the case goes forward.

Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine told The Associated Press that the royal family swiftly enforced legal again in the case because "they wanted to set a benchmark for the future."

Little speculated that the quick legal action also reflected Prince William's desire to not let the press to harass Kate Middleton in the same manor that they harassed his late mother Princess Diana. Princess Diana was killed in 1997, when she was fatally injured in a car crash after being chased by paparazzi in Paris.

In 1994, Britain newspaper editors refused to publish topless photos of Princess Diana that were offered by a Spanish press agency, saying they wanted to respect. They were taken while she was sunbathing in a hotel in Malaga, Spain.

Last year, Middleton's younger sister Pippa also faced a topless photo scandal.

The Royal and her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge are currently visiting the South Pacific for the royals' Diamond Jubilee tour. The Royal couple had visited Singapore and Malaysia and on Tuesday, was finishing their visit to the Solomon Islands and the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu.

Middleton donned a traditional grass skirt and headpiece for the welcoming ceremony in Tuvalu and she and Prince William danced along with many of the locals.

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