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Kate Middleton Topless Photo Scandal: Royals to Sue

PHIL NOBLE/AFP/GettyImages(LONDON) -- Britain's royal family says it is suing the French magazine that published topless photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have begun "legal proceedings for breach of privacy" against the magazine's publishers, the St. James Palace said in a statement Friday, after calling the publication of the photos "a grotesque and totally unjustifiable" invasion of the young couple's privacy.

The French magazine, Closer, published a spread of photos of what appears to be the Duchess of Cambridge, 30, on vacation, sunbathing, under the headline "Oh My God!" The magazine went on newsstands in France Friday.

The magazine defended the decision to publish the photos, saying in a statement on its website that the photos would only appear in the French, not the British edition, and were not degrading.

The pictures were reportedly taken while Middleton and Prince William, who celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary in April, enjoyed a mini four-day vacation together last week at a secluded chateau in the south of France before beginning a tour of the Far East and South Pacific to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

The royal couple was reportedly told about the photos as they ate breakfast Friday before visiting a mosque in Malaysia. A palace source tells ABC News that at first the couple simply felt saddened, but as the day wore on the sadness turned to shock and anger and ultimately resulted in a decision to take legal action against the magazine.

"Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. 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 St. James Palace said an earlier statement Friday.

Last month, nude photographs of Prince William's younger brother, Prince Harry, partying in a Las Vegas hotel surfaced online and made headlines around the world. In that case, the palace contacted the Press Complaints Commission, which advised British newspapers to not publish the pictures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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