Italian magazine to publish topless Kate pix

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ROME (AP) - An Italian gossip magazine owned by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday it plans to publish topless photos of Prince William’s wife Kate, despite legal action against a French magazine that published the images first.

Chi is part of Berlusconi’s publishing house Mondadori, which also owns Closer, the popular French magazine that hit newsstands Friday with the photos - and was immediately slapped with a lawsuit by the royal couple alleging privacy violations.

The photos, taken while Kate and William were at a private estate in southern France last month, are the first to show Britain’s likely future queen with her bosom exposed.

Chi said it plans to publish a 26-page spread with the photos on Monday. The cover, featuring three pictures of a topless princess, was unveiled Saturday in Italian newspapers and television under the headline “The Queen is Nude!”

In an interview Saturday with The Associated Press, editor Alfonso Signorini said he didn’t fear legal action since the photos were already in the public domain following Closer’s publication.

Closer’s position is different, they were the first ones to publish,” he said.

He defended the decision to publish them in Italy, saying the photos are tasteful and respect Kate’s dignity.

“I don’t see anything morbid or damaging in them,” he said. “Chi pays attention to respecting people’s dignity. I don’t think they hurt Kate’s image.”

He added in a statement that the pictures actually were in line “with the modern concept of the monarchy.”

“It shows in its total naturalness the daily life of a young, famous, modern couple in love,” he said.

A spokeswoman at St. James’s Palace, Prince William’s office, said the palace was reviewing “all proportionate responses” to Chi’s planned publication.

The spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with palace policy, said publication of the photos served no purpose “other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative’s home.”

The blurry photos, called a “grotesque” abuse of privacy by royal officials after they were published Friday by Closer, show Kate - the Duchess of Cambridge - wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom and sunglasses.

In one of the three on Chi’s cover, she appears to be rubbing suntan lotion on William’s shoulder.

St. James’s Palace officials compared the intrusion on the young couple’s privacy to the tragic paparazzi pursuit of William’s mother Princess Diana, which many believe was a contributing factor to her early death in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

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