Can the Royals Beat the Tabloids Over Topless Shots?

Silvio Berlusconi always struck us as a very classy guy. Pool parties with underage models aside, he seemed like something of a traditional businessman—which is why we are not in the least surprised by his decision to continue publishing topless sunbathing photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince William and the legal team behind Britain’s royal family have decided to sue the French magazine Closer, which just happens to be part of Berlusconi’s paper empire. Italian society has responded to the scandal with a shrug–citizens note that local celebrities are simply understood to have less in the way of privacy rights than their American counterparts, and the paparazzi was in a public space when he took the pics (using a hyper-zoom telephoto lens, of course).

But France has stricter privacy laws, and experts state that some have “undoubtedly” been broken. It would seem that Will and Kate have a case there–but we have no doubt that the magazine’s publishers considered the cost of an inevitable lawsuit before running the photos and decided to go with them anyway.

Could this be a PR victory for the royal couple? We doubt it–even if Berlusconi has to pay a fine and recall thousands of magazines, he still got the attention he wanted. He claims ownership of the photos, and in a striking coincidence he happens to be preparing for another political run. Can the royals win a significant victory, or will the publishers go unpunished? What do you think?