So, the Duchess of Cambridge’s naked breasts have been photographed and published in an increasing number of tabloids. And Buckingham Palace has responded in unusually vituperative terms, despite the fact that Prince Charles himself was photographed nude years ago — as his other son, and his inlaws make a specialty of it, and the Duchess’ siblings make a specialty of being photographed in louche costumes — James in a French maid’s outfit, Pippa in a toilet paper dress.

One royal source invoked the ghost of Princess Diana, who, as you will recall, lived and died by the sword of the paparazzi:

This is disappointing, saddening and turns the clock back 15 years. We have always maintained the position that the Duke and Duchess deserve their privacy, not least when they are on holiday in their own swimming pool.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/kate-middleton/9542541/Topless-photographs-of-Kate-Middleton-to-be-published-by-French-magazine.html

The official statement from St. James Palace was even more explicit:

“The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so,” the statement continues. “Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.”
http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20395222_20630081,00.html

It’s my sense that Prince William’s life has been formed and deformed by the paparazzi and that if the British monarchy folds, it will be because William cannot stand the invasion of privacy.

His parents’ marriage seems to have foundered on the fact that Diana could and did sabotage every public appearance Charles made by crossing or uncrossing her legs. Crowds behind the ropes on either side of the walkway the couple strode would groan when Charles came to shake their hands and Diana went the other way. Diana most unwisely told her story of the marriage secretly to Andrew Morton, and then to Martin Bashir. I believe the Martin Bashir interview persuaded the government of Britain that Diana was a loose cannon, like the Duke of Windsor, who needed to be divorced, shamed by the removal of her HRH rank, and sent far away to govern the Bahamas because she was a threat to national security. Within days after the interview, the Queen for the first time was urging Charles and Diana to divorce, something they had not contemplated in the years previous.

In the hours leading up to her death in a car chased by paparazzi, Diana had chosen Dodi Fayed’s drunken driver and security system (possibly believing that any royal security officers were spies) — choosing the very rich, very foolish boyfriend Fayed, possibly, as one biographer speculates, to make a previous Muslim lover jealous. She was complicit in her own death, to be sure. Still, that as a 19 year old she was thrown to the paparazzi without protection at all seems to have been the lesson Prince William learned from day one. Indeed, there are photographs of the young family taken when baby William was learning to walk allegedly so that the crowds and sounds of photographers wouldn’t frighten him, a photo opp suggested by Diana.

William, in his 21st birthday interview, named the invasion of privacy as the most onerous aspect of his fate. He said he spent the years after Diana’s death keeping his head down so no paparazzi would benefit from photographing him. His official birthday photographs were of William slopping the pigs at his father’s country house.

“I was never shy,” he said. “But, it’s very funny. I was called shy because I put my head down so much when I was in public.

“It was never because I was shy. It was a really naive thing that I hadn’t picked up on.

“I know it’s silly and that everyone will laugh at it. But I thought that, when I was in public, if I kept my head down, then I wouldn’t be photographed so much.

“Therefore, I thought, people wouldn’t know what I looked like so I could go about doing my own thing which, of course, frankly was never going to work.

“It was so that people wouldn’t recognise me and I could still go out with friends and things like that.

“So they just saw the top of my head. But usually I was photographed with my eyes looking up through a big blond fringe. It was very silly.

“I wouldn’t say I prefer to be unnoticed because that’s never going to happen.

“But I’m someone who doesn’t particularly like being the centre of attention.”
http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/newsandgallery/news/prince_william_is_interviewed_for_his_21st_birthday_part_2_501917688.html

I don’t think stealing images of the Duchess’ breast is new or shocking. I think it comes from the war trophy instinct by which the Khmer Rouge string dried fetuses from the eaves of their headquarters, the Chinese threaten to eat their enemy’s liver, the genitalia of Sarah Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus are displayed in a formaldehyde jar,  Napoleon’s amputated penis peregrinates the world and Otzi’s is rumored to do so, but actually does not. Long lens photographs are the 21st century version of the formaldehyde jar. The  atavistic French editor who published the topless photographs of the Duchess touches on this war trophy aspect of the photographs when she captioned them, Incredible pictures of the future Queen of England as you’ve never seen her before… and as you will never see her again!

An early 19th century caricature of Sarah Baartman.

I thought Laurence Pieau, who is an employee of the conglomerate owned by the pedophiliac Italian prime minister Berlusconi, an especially loathsome specimen of the long-term French anti-feminist tradition, the same kind of  pimp Frenchwomen like former Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld  or the scholar Mona Ouzouf are famous for being:

The real issue in this story is the bond between Princess Diana and her son, who famously — as she told the reporters — would slide tissues under the bathroom door as the most-photographed woman in the world sobbed.  The thing is William has no choice.

But the Duchess, like Diana, was a volunteer.

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