A right royal palava

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Oh dear – it looks like the honeymoon is well and truly over for Kate Middleton.  If the Duchess of Cambridge thought she was going to get the Royal treatment from the overseas press pack, events over the last week have sadly proven otherwise.

‘Shocking’ photos of Kate sunbathing topless have emerged in French magazine, Closer, taken while she was enjoying a relaxing, private break at a château belonging to the Queen’s nephew, Lord Linley.

Just a few weeks ago, Prince Harry was splashed across the media worldwide in a similar state of undress – the difference being he was enjoying a wild party in Las Vegas and foolishly put himself in a compromising position.  

In Kate’s case, however, and given the size of Lord Linley’s estate, it would have been reasonable to expect a degree of privacy. But, telephoto lenses are damn powerful these days and the grainy shots clearly show the Duchess in a state of undress enjoying the sunshine.

As a result, the UK media is up in arms about the invasion of her privacy and lawyers acting for the Royal couple have now successfully taken out an injunction to stop further publication – they have also lodged a criminal complaint against the photographer.

But, profit is a great motivator and the images have already appeared in the Irish edition of the Daily Star and Chi magazine in Italy, with, I suspect, more to follow. They are spreading like wildfire. It’s not just the print media the couple’s lawyers have to contend with, it’s social media, and let’s face it, they haven’t got a hope of getting all the images taken offline.

Think back to the identification of Mr X – the Premiership footballer involved in an extra-marital affair with Imogen Thomas. He was identified online and despite injunctions and legal action his name stayed online and for a while became a trending term. On a more serious note, even the deposed dictators of the Middle East have been unable to shut down social media networks and restrict the flow of information as they fought for survival.

I don’t dispute the images are in poor taste and are an invasion of the couple’s privacy, but the pictures are out there now and no amount of legal action or injunctions will take them offline.

Which makes the legal action, well, a little bit pointless.

The photographer may get a slap on the wrist and the magazine has been fined, but the notoriety and extra sales the images will have generated will more than compensate them.  

This is just the latest example of the power and speed of social media networks to spread information faster than it can be stamped out, for good or bad.