Kate bikini photos published by Chi magazine in Italy

Copy of Chi with pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge blurred Copies of the Italian magazine Chi went on sale in Italy on Wednesday

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Italian gossip magazine Chi has printed photos of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge on a Caribbean holiday - a move condemned by St James's Palace.

The images show Catherine in a bikini walking on a beach on the island of Mustique with the Duke of Cambridge.

The palace said the latest publication was a "breach of the couple's right to privacy". Images are also planned for an Australian magazine on Monday.

Meanwhile, ITV apologised for showing an unblurred image of the magazine.

Mondadori, Chi's publisher, confirmed the magazine went on sale in Italy on Wednesday.

However, the magazine is not yet on sale in Rome because of distribution problems following snow in parts of the country.

'Disappointed'

The duchess, who is about four months pregnant, is pictured on the magazine's front cover in a bikini in the sea above the headline "the belly grows". In another image, she is pictured walking with her husband on the beach.

A St James's Palace spokesman said on Tuesday night, prior to the publication: "We are disappointed that photographs of the Duke and Duchess on a private holiday look likely to be published overseas.

"This is a clear breach of the couple's right to privacy."

The Caribbean island boasts of its appeal to those seeking luxury and privacy.

The future king and queen have no doubt been afforded the former; but not, we now know, the latter.

The publication of photographs of a pregnant duchess in a bikini is a reminder of the commercial value of such pictures and of the enduring worldwide interest in the newest member of an ancient institution.

Other European publications may follow the example of Chi. British newspapers, with a decision on Leveson still looming, probably won't.

The royals have complained. The printing presses will still roll.

For William, there will be faint echoes of his mother's experiences.

A bracing holiday at Balmoral or Sandringham may suddenly appear attractive.

The palace spokesman declined to comment on whether the couple - who announced in December they were expecting their first child - would take any legal action over the issue.

The magazine is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori media group. The company also publishes Closer magazine in France, which first ran the pictures of the duchess topless while on a private holiday in France last year.

At the time, the couple's lawyers took out an injunction in a French court in an attempt to stop the sale and distribution of the photos.

A Paris court later ruled its publishers had to hand over the original photographs within 24 hours or face daily fines of 10,000 euro (£8,000).

But the images went on to be published in other European magazines, as the ruling did not cover publications outside France. Chi produced a 26-page spread of the images.

Meanwhile, ITV has apologised for showing the Chi magazine cover on Wednesday's This Morning programme.

It said in a statement: "Earlier during today's news review we were discussing photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a beach in Mustique published in an Italian magazine.

"Unfortunately we accidentally showed an unblurred image of the magazine cover, which briefly showed the photographs. This was a deeply regrettable error and we are very sorry.

"We apologise unreservedly to the duke and the duchess."

'Looks fabulous'

Separately, the editor of Australian magazine Woman's Day has defended her plans to print photographs of the duchess in a bikini next Monday.

Fiona Connolly said readers would "love" the images, which she said were captured by a member of the public.

The Duchess of Cambridge An Australian magazine plans to publish the pictures next week

Speaking to Australia's Channel Nine network, Ms Connolly said: "This is not a hard decision about these photos. Kate's on a public beach, there are other holidaymakers there and she looks fabulous."

Ms Connolly said the pictures were very different to those taken at a private French villa last year.

"I think the British are very sensitive about this," she said.

"As Australians, we see this every day. We see pregnant women in bikinis on the beach - and a public one at that - so we are a lot less sensitive here in Australia."

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney said Woman's Day is reported to have paid about £100,000 for 39 images, following a bidding war with rival publications.

The magazine pointed out that the Australian media was not bound by the gentleman's agreement with the Royal Family about what sort of images should be published and did not feel its readers would object to the "beautiful" photographs, our correspondent added.

Woman's Day is published by the Australian division of German publishing company Bauer.

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