Judith Bruhn explores the theory and practice of privacy in Europe and whether a court injunction was enough to salvage the Duchess of Cambridge’s privacy.
On 13 September 2012 the French magazine Closer published photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless while on holiday at the Chateau d’Autet, a private residence in the south of France. On 15 September the Irish Daily Star published the photos and on 17 September The Italian magazine Chi rushed out a special edition.
The royal couple lodged a criminal complaint with the French prosecutor’s office and filed a claim for civil damages at the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre. That court granted an injunction against Closer, prohibiting further publication of the pictures, and announced that a criminal investigation would be initiated. The court further ordered the French magazine to hand over digital files of the pictures. It reasoned that the photos were “by nature particularly intrusive” and a violation of the couple’s privacy. Even after this injunction in France, several magazines in Europe proceeded to publish the photos, among them the Danish magazine Se og Hør and its Swedish sister magazine Se och Hör.