In Defense Of The Topless Duchess

Image: TIME Magazine

Another day, another royal scandal.

As Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, continue on their Diamond Jubilee tour of Asia–today’s stop, Kuala Lumpur–the French magazine Closer published topless photos of Kate from a private vacation with William last week.  On holiday in southern France, the world famous young couple enjoyed their stay at a private hunting lodge, seemingly unbeknownst to the paparazzi lurking in the bushes.

The photos, taken as the couple sunbathed on a deck, feature the Duchess removing her bikini top presumably to avoid tan lines and enjoying some private time with her husband.  There is nothing sexual or deviant about the pictures of one of the most famous women in the world doing what so many ladies do while soaking up the sun.  How many of us have removed a bathing suit top or undone halter straps to avoid the unsightly white-to-tan skin contrast?

But that’s not the point.

It is entirely common to sunbathe topless.  Closer’s editor Laurence Pieau defended the publication by claiming that “these photos are not in the least shocking.  They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches.”  However, I’m sure most women would not be concerned about someone taking their photo while their breasts were exposed.  A private moment on a private vacation in a private villa was exploited for the sake of selling magazines, no doubt embarrassing and angering the Royal Couple.

While I do think that Pieau is correct and that the pictures themselves are not shocking, the magazine’s actions are abhorable.  Camping out in secret for snapshots knowing that semi-nude photographs will have the whole world not just talking, but buying its magazine is reprehensible.

Much like with Prince Harry’s Las Vegas scandal a few weeks ago that featured my favorite Ginger Prince playing strip billiards in his private (there’s that word again) hotel suite, the Palace is standing behind the Duchess.  St. James’s Palace issued the following statement:

“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.”

While there is no official right of privacy when it comes to celebrities—trust me, I did a research paper on the subject in an undergraduate human rights class—there is a case for common decency toward our fellow humans.  Are we so far gone in this world that we would rather stoop to such a level for profit?

When it comes to celebrities of the acting and musical worlds, people often argue that if they didn’t like the limelight, they could just as easily get out of.  Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and any of the Twilight folks could simply walk away from their multi-million dollar careers if they wanted a more private life.  They would soon fall off the radar and be able to grocery shop, go to medical appointments, and date without a pack of photographers following their every move.  After all, a job is a job and they did know what they were getting themselves into, right?  At least, that’s what the critics will tell you.

The Royals are a different story.

England—and arguably the world—has known who Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princes William and Harry were since they were born.  Though it was not known then that Elizabeth would be Queen until her uncle abdicated the throne when she was ten, the Royal Family have never known what it’s like to be anonymous.  They have had to deal with the press scrutinizing their every moves, speeches, and outfits since they can remember.  They are public figures representing their country and the citizens of it, but are they not entitled to some privacy?

After paparazzi all over the world hounded Diana, Princess of Wales ultimately resulting in her death as she tried to escape the glare of their cameras, there is no doubt that the Royals, particularly William, have done their best to prepare Kate for the pressures of Royal life.  It cannot be easy to be suddenly thrust into the limelight because the love of your life just happens to be the future King of England.  How could she have ever understood the lines that would be crossed by the media after she became a wife?

More than a decade after the press caught wind that William and Catherine’s friendship soon blossomed into romance, the fervor for the modern-day Cinderella increases on an almost daily basis.  As an ardent supporter and fan, I love seeing pictures of Kate as she interacts with hospital-bound children, Special Olympic athletes, local camping troops, her adorable cocker spaniel, or her clearly adored husband.

More of these kinds of photos please!

I think her makeup and hair choices are flawless and commend her for being photographed in an outfit more than once.  She is the epitome of modesty and class in each of her fashion choices, always displaying the appropriate amount of skin for the occasion.  These are the kind of pictures I want to see, not those that display what is so clearly a private moment between a husband and wife.

Rightly so, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are taking legal action against Closer.  I sincerely hope that this publication and its editor, Laurence Pieau, are made to pay for the complete disrespect they have shown toward the couple.

Perhaps pictures of Pieau’s own breasts should be published.

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8 thoughts on “In Defense Of The Topless Duchess

  1. Bonnie at {PaperKeeper} says:

    Jessica…great post and I love this in particular…

    “…there is a case for common decency toward our fellow humans….”

    I couldn’t agree more..there should be a baseline understanding of where celebrity ends and private lives begin. To make a buck, there is no end…

    Nicely done!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks so much, Bonnie! I was so disappointed when I read about this story this morning and completely appalled when I heard the editor defending the publishing of the photos. It’s just so sad that this lovely couple is being exploited like this.

    • Jessica says:

      Why thank you! The folks who are publishing the pictures are likening the Duchess to any other celebrity, but she’s not. She is a representative of the UK and she was not aware that photos were being taken of her. I’m sure if it had been the First Lady or First Daughters of the US, this wouldn’t have been tolerated.

  2. A Surprise Called Life says:

    Great post! It saddens me that already it is history repeating itself and no doubt would be a distressing reminder to Prince William what his Mother was subject to. I just think it’s really disgusting that they know they won’t get any scandals out of such a beautiful, respectful and dignified Duchess, so they create their own by exploiting innocent, private pictures. Yes, as Royals, wether they like it or not, no privacy comes with the territory, but there has to be a line! Nice to see The Palace and the public supporting the Duke and Duchess though.

    • Jessica says:

      It is very sad indeed, Neena. They seem to really be stooping with what they deem scandalous when it comes to the Duchess of Cambridge. She has a distant cousin who poses nude. What a shocker! She is seen smoking cigarettes. Oh, the humanity! It’s ridiculous. Even if she sunbathed topless as so many women do, Catherine broke no laws. She has a very good head on her shoulders and is handling the complete invasion of privacy with sheer dignity and I’m sure she will continue to do so.

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