A French court on Tuesday fined photographers and gossip magazine executives over topless photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing on a terrace in 2012, after it was ruled they had breached her privacy.
The court also ordered the defendants to pay damages to Middleton and her husband, Prince William, but the amount was significantly lower than that sought by the Royal Family.
The pictures of Middleton were taken in 2012 with telephoto lenses while she and her husband apparently were sunbathing on a patio at a private estate in France’s southern Provence region.
The court in a Paris suburb ruled Tuesday that three photographers and three newspaper executives invaded the privacy of Middleton, by taking and publishing the photos.
Two executives of French gossip magazine Closer, Laurence Piea and Ernest Mauria, were each fined €45,000 (C$66,240), the maximum possible fines for such offences under French privacy law.
In addition, the two executives, along with two photographers working with a celebrity photo agency, were collectively ordered to pay €50,000 ($73,600) in damages to Middleton and the same amount to Prince William.
The amount is far below the about €1.5 million ($2.2 million) in damages sought by the couple. Their lawyer, Jean Veil, said it will be up to Middleton and Prince William to interpret the outcome.
Veil also told the court that Prince William and his wife suffered hugely from the pictures and that they deserved the damages and compensation to add to “significant fines” against the accused.
In a statement read to the court, William branded the decision to publish the topless photos of his wife as “particularly shocking,” given his late mother’s battles with paparazzi.
Paul-Albert Iweins, lawyer for Closer magazine, called the fines exaggerated.
In 2013, the chief executive for Bauer Media, brand owner of Closer, criticized the decision to publish the photos.
“We have complained in the strongest terms to the licensee of Closer France over the publication by them of photographs of their Royal Highnesses, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge,” Bauer Media chief executive Paul Keenan said in a statement posted on Closer’s website.
“We deplore the publication of these intrusive and offensive pictures and have asked that Closer France takes these pictures down immediately from its website and desist from publishing any further pictures. Bauer Media and Closer UK regards publication of these photographs as a gross intrusion of their Royal Highnesses’ privacy.”
The couple, who didn’t attend the verdict, had filed a complaint after the photos were published in Closer and a regional newspaper in 2012, the year after their wedding.
—With files from the Associated Press