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French court partly covers Kate's shame

A French court has banned a gossip magazine from publishing further topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton, and ordered that the snaps be returned to the British royal family.

A Paris court granted Prince William and his wife Kate an injunction on Tuesday, seeking to stop a French magazine from further publishing of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Closer magazine has already published the images in its September 14 issue, showing the royal formerly called Kate Middleton on holiday in a chateau in southern France.

Tuesday's ban covered the further distribution "by any means, in any format, in whatever manner, including on tablet computers" of the contentious images, and also prevented Closer's owners - Italian publishing house Mondadori - from selling the images to other publishers. It faces a daily fine of 10,000 euros ($13,120) for breach of this ruling - but the court did not order that the September 14 issue be withdrawn from newsstands.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome the judge's ruling," a spokeswoman for the Royal couple said.

The images have appeared in an Italian gossip magazine, also owned by Mondadori, and an Irish newspaper. Copies of the images taken from the publications are widely available on the Internet. Mondadori belongs to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Buckingham Palace had called the photo spread a "grotesque" invasion of the privacy of the couple, who tied the knot last year.

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge stand outside of Westminster Abbey after their Royal Wedding in London Friday, April, 29, 2011. (AP)

William and Kate have been married for almost 18 months

The royal couple are currently on a nine-day tour of the Asia-Pacific region to mark Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.

Rare breast blackout in British press

British papers, even those specializing in lurid photos taken with or without the subjects' consent, have avoided the images, citing respect for the royal family's privacy. The Sun led with the Tuesday headline "Find Le Rat," claiming the unidentified photographer would be found and should face jail.

The court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said police would also investigate whether there were grounds for criminal charges against Closer, Mondadori, or the as yet unknown photographer. Under French law, taking someone's picture in a private place without their consent can be punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of 45,000 euros - separate from any personal damages awarded.

Prince William's late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was also the subject of intense paparazzi scrutiny. She died in a late-night Paris car crash in 1997, with photographers following her car.

msh/mz (AFP, dpa, Reuters)