Sympathy for Kate Middleton

A tabloid spread of topless photos backfires royally as the public rallies around the duchess

Topics: Kate Middleton, Duchess of C ambridge, Royal Family, Prince Harry, Tabloids,

Sympathy for Kate MiddletonA man holds a copy of the French magazine Closer showing pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain's Prince William are displayed in a newspaper kiosk in Nice. (Credit: Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

As far as tabloid coups go, this one certainly has all the markings of the brass ring. It’s the publication, in the French magazine Closer, of what the magazine says is Kate Middleton lounging with her husband, the future king of England. Topless. Quel scandale!

The photographs, which Closer is teasing as “les photos sexy en Provence,” were taken recently while the couple was on holiday at a family member’s chateau. In them, the duchess is seen removing her bandeau and relaxing as she and her husband appear to apply sunscreen to each other. It’s a scene of intimate unguardedness, a private moment in what the royal family has called a “secluded location” — made as public as possible.

And for that – despite the inevitable outbreaks out slavering over the duchess’ knockers you’ll find out there right now – there’s been a loud and negative backlash. Apparently there really is still a line of invasiveness and tastelessness to be crossed in our long-lensed world, and Closer magazine just tap-danced right over it.

The publication of the photos, which were allegedly offered first to the British press, has been condemned in the UK Telegraph as “revolting” and “repellent.” On Twitter, readers have described the exploitive move in even more colorful terms, both French and English, including “grotesque,” “vulgar” and “disgraceful.” And the royal family itself, in a statement to the press, has called it a “grotesque and unjustifiable invasion of privacy.”

It’s been a very long time now, and since then tabloid culture has exploded to new levels of shamelessness, but the British people still recall how Princess Diana was killed in a car accident while being chased through a Paris tunnel by paparazzi. Their tolerance for the French invading the privacy of their royals hovers somewhere around the zero mark. And a nation still reeling from the revelations of the Murdoch machine’s phone hacking scandal has no doubt new insights into the concept that some spaces are not to be pried into.

The reaction also represents a very clear distinction between how the public views what the French press has done to Middleton and what went down with Prince Harry just a few weeks ago in Vegas. When photos of the prince cavorting around a hotel room during a spree with his bro Ryan Lochte surfaced in August, the general reaction was a worldwide shrug. Why? Because his nudity was captured by the people he was partying with. He wasn’t being stalked by some professional perv with expensive equipment, eager to sell out the duchess’ nipples to the highest bidder. You’d think that the French, whose former first lady spent half her career naked, would be more mature about these things.

Though the near universal disgust as the invasion of Middleton’s privacy will likely do absolutely nothing to slow down the aggressive, loathsome tactics of the tabloids, the incident seems poised to endear the duchess even further to her public, as it rallies protectively around her. Sure, there’s a whopping amount of embarrassment to be had in this, but it’s not hers. It rests on the creeper who violated her privacy and the tabloid that paid for that violation. Not in the woman who is comfortable enough in herself and her body to sunbathe topless – and prudent enough to remember her sunscreen.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>