European papers mull Kate pictures in internet age

Britain's Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption The British press declined to publish the pictures

The topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge and efforts by the royal couple to restrict further publication have been widely reported in the European press.

Papers and their websites debate the implications for celebrity privacy and media freedom in the internet age, with some reference to the breakdown of an agreement to avoid embarrassing the Royal Family since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

In France itself there is very little comment, although the right-wing newspaper Le Figaro made a point of carrying a photo of the Closer magazine cover on its website without any pixelation.

In Italy's La Repubblica the daughter of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi defends the decision of a Berlusconi-owned magazine to publish a special supplement on the photographs.

London correspondent Sonia Delesalle-Stolper in France's left-wing Liberation

Last week the photos were offered to the British press, which, in a splendid impulse of virtue, declined the offer. Rather than a sense of propriety, the chief reason for this is that newspapers on the other side of the Channel have been treading very carefully since the News of the World scandal and the illegal phone hacking of public figures.

London correspondent Thomas Kielinger in Germany's conservative Die Welt

Will the Palace in London start legal proceedings in Italy, too? That is doubtful for now. And what about cyberspace, which is beyond any supervision? Ireland's Daily Star has suspended its website, but the same is not true of the sources bubbling on the world-wide web. Since Diana's time, the media scene has changed dramatically. National self-restraint may apply in England - there is no such code of conduct in the internet.

JF Alonso and N. Colli in Spain's conservative ABC

In Spain, the line followed by the courts in lawsuits about honour, privacy or personal images labours under the legacy of the Franco-era restrictions on freedom of expression. Judicial sources admit that, in order to compensate for the lack of freedom of those years, the interpretation has perhaps become too lax and "leeway" has been given to the media.

Article in Spain's centre-left El Pais

Traditionally the Royal Family never takes legal action against the media, but the images are perhaps the most intrusive ever published of a senior member... Closer magazine is one of the great celebrity scourges. The Grimaldi royal family of Monaco have filed several lawsuits over reports of intimate moments.

Francesco Merlo in Italy's centre-left La Repubblica

The owner of Mondadori [Silvio Berlusconi] said no to Buckingham Palace's request... not to publish the topless photos of Princess Kate, thus finally bringing to a triumphal outcome the famous conflict of interest. It's an unexpected outcome, but prurient and grotesque, perfect for vaudeville and above all for the burlesque that is the password that Berlusconi himself has chosen for his own destiny.

Marina Berlusconi in La Repubblica

What should my father have done?... Out of respect for the duchess's privacy and heeding only his own political interests, should he have trampled on the editorial independence of Mondadori, forcing it not publish that which the overwhelming majority of gossip papers, in every part of the globe, would have competed with each other to have?

Vittorio Sabadin in Italy's liberal La Stampa

The real problem, as Queen Elizabeth learned while still a child, is that being a member of the Royal Family is a privilege with very high costs. The role and duties mean that you cannot expect at the same time to be a Royal Highness and also live a normal life like ordinary people... If you want to continue to play the part of a Royal Highness, there are painful sacrifices to be made: no more strip-billiards, and topless sunbathing only where you are really sure of not being seen.

Guia Soncini in Italy's left-wing L'Unita

Britain is the country that practically invented the notion of scandal-sheet journalism, but when it comes to princessly boobs it rediscovers the notion of lese majesty. As if they had photographed her during an orgy, or dressed as a Nazi (in both of which situations, to remind those inattentive to scandal-sheet journalism, her brother-in-law Prince Harry has been immortalised).

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