—William was so furious he called in lawyers to sue French Closer and fears he and Kate may now be subjected to the same sort of hysterical paparazzi hounding that haunted his mum Diana.
As they soaked up the adulation of delighted royal fans on their Far East tour, everything looked rosy for William and Kate, reported the Mirror News.
But the couple’s joy was shattered by the appearance of shocking topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge in a French magazine.
And last night they were said to be devastated and saddened at the intrusive shots of them relaxing on a balcony at a chateau in Provence during a private holiday this month.
William was so furious he called in lawyers to sue French Closer over the pictures that have been shown around the world on the internet.
The prince fears he and Kate may now be subjected to the same sort of hysterical paparazzi hounding that haunted his mum Diana in the months before she was killed in a Paris car crash 15 years ago. Worried William told aides: “I don’t want what happened to my mother to happen to my wife.”
As unrepentant Closer editor Laurence Pieau last night defended publishing the pictures, a royal source said: “William is furious to say the least. The more they heard about what was in the pictures the more their sadness turned to anger and disbelief.
“This is exactly the kind of thing he wanted to prevent from happening. This is what made him so cautious about bringing Kate into the royal fold, he didn’t want her to be subjected to a life of scrutiny with no freedom, no privacy.
“Until now he has felt this has been somewhat possible. But these photographs have crossed a real line. He is utterly devastated.
“Now he is worried they are staring at a future with no freedom.”
William and Kate, both 30, yesterday put on a brave face amid the furore as they continued their tour of the Far East with a visit to Asyakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
But the couple’s fury showed through in a strongly worded and unprecedented statement released by Buckingham Palace. It read: “They have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and unjustifiable manner.
“This is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the paparazzi during Diana’s life and the more upsetting to the duke and duchess for being so.
“They had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. Officials are consulting with lawyers.”
A source said: “This was a statement driven by William. He wanted the world to know how strongly he condemns this.” Kate was said to be “deeply upset” by the pictures.
The source said: “This has completely thrown the duchess because it is the first really horrible thing that has happened to her since she entered the royal household.
“She has always been acutely aware of the pitfalls of her new position, but until now she hasn’t experienced anything truly negative. This has deeply shocked her.
“Like any woman, she is mortified at the thought of people looking at these images. She is also anxious William shouldn’t feel responsible in any way for what has happened.”
Clarence House confirmed it will sue French Closer. A spokesman said: “Legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge against the publishers of Closer Magazine France.”
The Mirror was offered pictures of Kate in her bikini on the same balcony a week ago but chose not to publish them on the grounds of privacy, as with the recent naked images of Prince Harry in a US hotel room.
Di’s friend Rosa Monckton led the chorus of anger from outside the royal family. She tweeted: “I was on holiday with Diana in Greece 10 days before she died. Press: 5 boats, 10 helicopters, 250 journalists. ‘It’s a hunt Rosa,’ Diana said to me. Let the duchess have a private life. She needs down time for her own sanity.”
A source close to David Cameron said Number 10 “echoes the sadness of the Palace”.
Publicist Max Clifford said: “I’m surprised at this, considering what happened in France to William’s mother 15 years ago. That adds to the upset it will have caused them.”
Labour culture spokeswoman Helen Goodman told how she was sent a copy of the photo of Kate on Twitter. But she added: “Just blocked vile sender. People should be allowed privacy whoever they are.”
Closer editor Pieau said the magazine had other images of the duchess at the chateau in the Luberon region of Provence that are even more intimate. She added: “One shouldn’t dramatise these pictures. What we saw was a young couple just married, who are in love, who are beautiful. She’s a young woman who is topless, just like the ones who can been seen on all of the beaches of France and the world.”
William and Kate were first told of the magazine’s intention to publish the pictures as they sat down to breakfast yesterday morning at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Despite their disappointment and anger, St James’s Palace said last night the couple “remain focused” on their Diamond Jubilee tour.
Kate covered her head with a veil and removed her shoes before she entered the Asyakirin Mosque, in keeping with Islamic tradition. It brought back memories of Diana, who did the same when she visited one during a tour of Pakistan in 1996. Around 10,000 royal fans turned out to cheer William and Kate as they arrived. The prince later gave a speech to 1,000 businessmen and women at a convention centre.
He and Kate then went to a Diamond Jubilee tea party where the duchess chatted to the renowned shoe designer Jimmy Choo. He said: “She is an absolutely beautiful person.”
As the couple arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport to board a jet for Sabah in Borneo, the strain of hearing about the pictures of his wife showed on William’s face.
He looked straight ahead with clenched teeth while walking along a red carpet laid out in the VIP area. But Kate still flashed a smile to waiting reporters.