Kate Middleton topless photos appear in magazine, royal couple 'hugely saddened' by invasion of privacy

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Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne will certainly be unforgettable. In the span of less than a month, the matriarch of the royal family – who has been celebrating her Diamond Jubilee year – has found her family caught up in two nude photo scandals. This time the overexposed royal is none other than Kate Middleton.

Unlike party boy Prince Harry, who was seen stripped-down during a wild night in his Las Vegas hotel suite last month, Middleton, 30, was just minding her own business when an intrusive photographer, using a long lens, took photos of her while she was sunbathing topless with Prince William in the South of France. The couple, who married in April 2011, were on the balcony of a friend’s 19th-century hunting lodge, and they were oblivious to the lurking paparazzo.

The French magazine Closer ran a dozen photos of the Duchess of Cambridge as she removed her top on a lounge chair. According to reports, one of the pictures featured Middleton partially pulling down her bikini bottom while the prince rubbed suntan lotion on her. The magazine also reported that Middleton was smoking a cigarette.

Naturally, the couple – who are very well regarded around the globe, and generally viewed as classy and fairly conservative (she actually made headlines for wearing a dress with a thigh-high slit) – are disturbed by the invasion of privacy. Currently visiting Kuala Lumpur on behalf of the queen as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour, they issued a statement through their palace rep: “Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so. Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.”

The statement concluded by stating that they are considering legal action.

The nude photo scandal comes just weeks after William's brother, Prince Harry, was photographed completely naked while partying with a group of girls in a Las Vegas hotel. They were said to have been playing strip pool at the time. As soon as the photos hit the Internet, he returned to London to face the reportedly unhappy Queen Elizabeth II as well as his father, Prince Charles. He has since been deployed to Afghanistan for a four-month tour, which the palace said was scheduled before his Vegas exploits made headlines.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a nude photo scandal has rocked the palace. Sarah Ferguson was snapped having her toes sucked by a U.S. businessman as she sunbathed topless in 1992. At the time she was separated but still married to Prince Andrew.

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