UK national newspapers this week showed a united front in condemning the topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, with papers describing them as “grossly intrusive” and “unpleasant”.
The Royal household reacted angrily to the photos being published in France, and British newspapers – broadsheets and tabloids – have unanimously followed suit.
The Daily Mail editorial said: “[L]et’s be absolutely clear: the French edition of Closer magazine and the paparazzi who took the photos are guilty of an indefensible intrusion of privacy.
“Critics of the British Press and the current system of newspaper self-regulation should take note that, when London papers were offered similar pictures last week, they rightly did not want anything to do with them.
“To have used them would have been a blatant breach of the Editors’ code of practice, on which the Press Complaints Commission makes its judgments. This makes a clear distinction between photographs taken in public places and those where the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
“The bitter irony, of course, is that France is considered a shining beacon by those who wish to shackle the UK’s free Press with statutory regulation.”
The Sun also made its editorial stance clear, telling readers they would “not be seeing in The Sun those topless pictures”.
It said the Kate photos “fall into an entirely different category” to the pictures of Prince Harry, which the paper published earlier in August.
“She was on a private holiday in a private chateau. The path from which the photographer took his pictures was a mile away. She had every expectation of privacy,” the editorial said.
“Nor is there the slightest public interest in publishing this set of intimate pictures in such circumstances.
“The Sun’s readers expect us to remain bold and fearless when it matters, and we will continue to act in the public interest when we think it right regardless of official pressure.”
It added: “The Duchess is a delightful, warm and hugely admired figure.
“She displayed magnificent dignity yesterday when she must have been boiling with anger.”
The Daily Express was also sympathetic with “poor Kate”, saying: “[S]he must have been in turmoil about the extremely unpleasant intrusion into her privacy that she had suffered.”
The Independent editorial said: “For all the criticism of the British press, it is notable that – so far, at least – all have chosen not to print the controversial pictures. Quite right.
“The most disturbing aspect of the affair is the parallels with the paparazzi's hounding of Princess Diana. More than anything, Closer's objectionable editorial decision cannot signal open season on the wife of her son.”