Italian mag publishes topless Kate despite legal risk
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
ROME, Sept 17: An Italian magazine owned by Silvio Berlusconi published topless photos of Prince William´s wife Catherine on Monday despite the risk of legal action, but Italian reaction to the pictures was muted.
In a special edition, Chi magazine splashed three photos of the topless princess on its front cover and devoted 28 pages to the story, even including a plastic surgeon´s analysis of the royal breasts.
Chi is published by the former Italian prime minister´s media empire that also owns the France-based publication Closer, which first published the photos last week.
The decision to run the images has incensed the royal family, whose lawyers are seeking a civil injunction and criminal charges in Paris.
But Chi editor Alfonso Signorini said the pictures represented "extraordinary reportage" and were "not in violation of privacy."
"For the first time, the future queen of England was appearing in a natural way, without the constraints of etiquette," Signorini said.
A palace spokeswoman hinted the royal family could launch legal action against both Chi and the Irish Daily Star, which sparked outrage in Britain when it too published the photos on Saturday.
"All proportionate responses will be kept under review," she said.
Chi is no stranger to royal scandal, as it was one of the few publications to print a shocking photo of Prince William´s mother Diana dying of her injuries at the scene of a high-speed crash in Paris in 1997.
The topless photos were taken through a powerful telephoto lens as the prince and his wife -- the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- relaxed in private at a chateau in the south of France.
But in Italy, where pictures of celebrities sunbathing topless are a summer staple of the tabloid press, there has been little media interest in a scandal that has seethed in Britain, France and Ireland for days.
Berlusconi´s daughter Marina, who chairs Chi and Closer owner Mondadori, was herself snapped topless by Chi in 2010 in what was seen less a paparazzo incident and more a chance to show off an apparent breast enlargement.
"The topless Kate Middleton story is so boring. Does anyone really care?" said Domenico Naso, a blogger writing for the Il Fatto Quotidiano daily.
But Francesco Merlo, an editorial writer for La Repubblica, said in an open letter to Marina Berlusconi that the scandal was "hurting" her father.
Berlusconi "should have called the British ambassador to let Her Majesty know the photos had been blocked," Merlo said, following a statement by Marina Berlusconi on Saturday that defended the magazines´ editorial independence.
Italy has strong privacy laws but a notoriously slow justice system.
A case brought by Silvio Berlusconi himself against a weekly for publishing photos of him frolicking with young women at his villa in 2007 is ongoing.
Berlusconi´s lawyers say the pictures were taken from the grounds of the villa, while "Oggi" is claiming his love life was a matter of public interest.