Kate photos: Chi says photos 'not scandalous'

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge The Duchess of Cambridge is about four months pregnant

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The editor of Italian gossip magazine Chi has defended using photos of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge in a bikini on holiday, saying they are "photos of a young couple in love".

Alfonso Signorini told the BBC the images were not an invasion of privacy.

St James's Palace said the 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.

Mr Signorini told the BBC: "They are images of such unexceptional normality that there is only limited mention of them on the cover of the magazine.

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

"The photographs, which can in no way be considered scandalous, were bought from an international photo agency, do not harm the image of the protagonists and the reaction of the media seems to me wholly over the top.

"Moreover, the photographs can hardly be considered an invasion of privacy when the subjects are public figures in a public place, in the open air; specifically on a beach surrounded by other bathers.

"It is also true that the Italian press is not a party to the gentlemen's agreement between the British press and Buckingham Palace."

He added: "What our readers will see is simply a moment of joyful relaxation being enjoyed by a smiling, happy couple. Where's the scandal in that?"

'Disappointed'

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.

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 on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

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 tension between an institution which needs to be noticed and those whose job it is to observe them at work and at play, is nothing new.

Back in 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer first entered the public consciousness, the Queen told photographers at Sandringham: "I wish you would go away."

They didn't and they won't - images now of a pregnant duchess can command a six-figure sum.

So far, the response of the royals has been restrained in their choice of language and action. No talk yet, in public at least, of seeking legal redress.

If it was pursued, the argument would be that on a private holiday, on a private beach, on a private island, William and Kate are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The soon-to-be parents have escaped the climate of austerity and the wintry weather.

They haven't escaped what William sees as one of the downsides of his destiny.

The spokesman would not comment on whether the couple - who announced in December that they were expecting their first child - would take any legal action over the issue.

The palace also declined to comment further on Wednesday, following the publication of the pictures.

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.

ITV apologised for showing the latest 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."

Eamonn Holmes, the show's presenter, also gave an on-air apology during the programme.

'Looks fabulous'

Meanwhile, 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.

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.

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

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