French court to magazine: Hand over Kate topless photos, stop publishing

Prince William and Catherine
Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, visit the Tuvalu Campus of the University of the South Pacific during their visit to Funafuti on September 18, 2012.
Tony Prcevich/AFP/GettyImages

(CBS News) The publisher of the gossip magazine that published topless photos of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been ordered by a French court to give up all digital copies of the photos and stop further publication of the images.

The magazine, Closer, has been ordered to stop publishing the pictures on its website and mobile app. The magazine published 14 photos on Friday of the former Kate Middleton partially dressed in a private moment while on vacation.

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The ruling Tuesday affects only the French publisher - and not other publications that have already run the photos in Italy and Ireland. But there have already been serious consequences for the editor of the Irish newspaper, the Irish Daily Star, that published the photos. The editor has been suspended by his English publisher, who is also threatening to close the paper down.

As for the public, they've already delivered a verdict on the topless pictures of Prince William's wife: They've snapped them up. Newsstand operators in Paris say they've sold out of issues carrying the controversial photos. A lot of the magazines were bought, one man told CBS News, by British tourists who can't get access at home. The magazine is already a collector's item.

Closer, the French celebrity and gossip glossy and Chi, its Italian counterpart - also owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlesconi - have tried to justify the decision to publish the pictures on the grounds that they're harmless, that they were taken from a public road, even if the couple were on private property, and - the greatest justification of all - that the public wants to see them.

William and Kate prefer to be seen performing royal duties as they've been doing this week in the South Pacific. It's all smiles and glad-handing here, but their lawyers have been playing hardball, asking the French courts to fine Closer magazine more than $13,000 dollars a day if they do not stop the distribution of the pictures and about a $130,000 if the photos are sold on in France or anywhere else.

(CBS News correspondent Seth Doane has traveled with Will and Kate on their tour through the South Pacific. Watch his report in the video below.

This episode is the first real test for William and Kate of the always-delicate relationship between the royals and press, from whose prying cameras William seems even more determined to protect his wife.

Nick Ferrari, a former U.K. tabloid editor, said, "At last, there's a sense that we've got a prince who's actually standing up for his bride in a way that Charles never did for Diana. Nobody in this country wants to see what happened to Diana happening to this smashing young kid. The person who's going to try to ensure it doesn't happen is William. He's got most of the population of Britain behind him."

Watch Mark Phillips' report in the video above.

  • Mark Phillips
    Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.