Prince William is no doubt still fuming over topless Kate Middleton photos as he is now seeking $1.6 million (£1.3 million) from French magazine Closer for publishing the unflattering images. Prince William’s French lawyer revealed the request on the first day of the trial for the lawsuit filed by the Royal family against the magazine, as reported by several international media outlets on Tuesday.
It’s a given that when the reputation of big players are at stake, the risks are higher and the financial damages are unsurprisingly more expensive. Prince William’s lawyer, Jean Veil, and a prosecutor emphasized on this during the criminal trial, “urging the court to impose ‘very significant fines'” and “very large damages” on the defendants, the BBC reported.
However, fans of the Royal couple would probably agree that no amount could ever pay for the distress and humiliation that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge had endured over the revealing photographs, which were taken by the paparazzi during a holiday in Provence in 2012. The privacy breach was especially difficult for Prince William since it brought back painful memories of his mother’s death.
In a statement read by Veil in French to the court, Prince William likened the incident to the “harassment” that resulted to the accident that had claimed his mother’s life, Diana Princess of Wales. The statement further reads, as quoted by the Telegraph, below:
“In September 2012, my wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy. We know France and the French and we know that they are, in principle, respectful of private life, including that of their guests. The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy.”
The Royal family has always been the subject of the paparazzi. Treated as celebrities, the tabloids just can’t resist snapping a picture of members of the British monarchy even in their most intimate and private moments; princesses, such as the late Princess Margaret and Princess Diana, had it worst. The once reclusive British Royals have been made accessible to the public all the more during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, leading some to criticize her for allowing the media into the lives of the British monarchy.
In 1969, for example, she let the BBC into her humble abode to film a documentary about them, in which her family can be seen sharing a good laugh at the dinner table, or preparing food for a barbeque at Balmoral Castle. It has since been withdrawn from public view, but short clips of the documentary are still available on YouTube (below). Critics claimed that the film made the Royals “ordinary,” and it was known that Queen Elizabeth regretted her decision, according to the Telegraph.
The argument being made by the legal counsel of Closer is that the Royals extended an invitation to the media to take a peek into their lives. According to the BBC, Paul-Albert Iweins noted that Prince William and Kate Middleton are certainly no stranger to media attention—he argued that their 2011 wedding was broadcasted for all the world to see—and thus, the photos “did not constitute a breach of privacy” and actually “cast them in a positive light.”
The case marks the first time that a British Royal could receive a record-breaking sum in a privacy case. In the past, Queen Elizabeth had sued The Sun on two separate occasions for breach of copyright, as previously reported by the BBC and the Telegraph. According to The Telegraph, the Queen had received a settlement worth £200,000 for one of the incidents that was given to charity. The Sun had also paid the Queen out-of-court settlements for leaking private documents.
Meanwhile, in 1993 and 1995, Diana Princess of Wales received £500,000 for “breach of confidence” after she was photographed at a gym while exercising. The photos, ran by the Daily Mirror, were taken by the gym owner, who paid £300,000 out of the total amount. The paper paid Princess Diana £200,000 and her £1 million legal fee, according to the BBC. The settlement amount was donated to charity as well.
Lawyers interviewed by BBC reporter Nick Higham for an analysis both agreed that Closer was probably aware of the legal consequences of publishing Kate Middleton’s topless photos but went through with it as they had already factored in how much they could earn from the photographs. Considering that fines for privacy cases have declined in recent years, the magazine, a fine of 30,000 euros won’t make a dent in the magazine’s revenues. One of the lawyers added that, at best, the damages could only amount to 15,000 euros.
Prince William is also suing La Provence, a French newspaper, for publishing similar compromising photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William is expecting a £42,000 compensation from the paper.
What do you think? Is $1.6 million a reasonable settlement for Kate Middleton’s topless photos, or should Prince William ask for more (he is likely to donate the money to charity anyway)? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
[Featured Image by KGC-178/Starmaxinc.com/AP Images]