One of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspapers on Wednesday published a picture showing the bare bottom of Prince William’s wife Kate, refusing to follow a “ridiculous” ban imposed by the British media.
The image was taken during the royal couple’s hugely successful tour of Australia in April when they showed off their infant son George, and was run in the Sydney Daily Telegraph a day after it appeared in German tabloid Bild, which declared she had a “beautiful bum”.
It shows the Duchess of Cambridge’s blue and white summer dress lifted by a gust of wind when the royal couple got out of a helicopter in the Blue Mountains, 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Sydney.
The Daily Telegraph said British newspapers had refused to run the photo out of respect to the royals, but in a comment piece said this was “an antiquated code of etiquette” under the headline “My bare lady: Derri-heir to the throne is fair game.”
“It seems a bit ridiculous to expect the rest of the world’s media to follow suit, particularly in a world in which flesh and commercialism go hand in hand,” said Telegraph social writer Annette Sharp.
“If the Duchess can’t be bothered protecting herself by having hem weights sewn into her garments, why should the media protect her?”
The duchess is no stranger to wardrobe malfunctions and struggled to control the hem of her red dress as she stepped off a plane in New Zealand ahead of her Australian tour.
Diane Morel, a Blue Mountains local, took the Australian photo and almost deleted it before realising what she had captured.
“It wasn’t until I got home and I popped my camera card into the computer that I realised what I had captured,” the 47-year-old told the newspaper, vowing to donate any money raised from the photo’s sale to a bushfire relief fund.
-‘Breach of privacy’-
During their tour, the royal couple met survivors and toured the scene of devastating Australian bushfires last year that destroyed more than 200 homes.
It is not the first time Australian media has abandoned royal protocols with two radio presenters causing outrage in 2012 when they duped a nurse at the hospital treating Prince William’s pregnant wife into giving them details about her morning sickness condition.
The nurse who fielded the call later killed herself.
William and Kate have faced numerous battles in the past to protect their privacy by preventing the publication of photographs.
In one of the most famous cases in 2012, French magazine Closer provoked outrage among the royals and sections of the British press when it published paparazzi photos of a topless Kate.
The royals took legal action and French authorities promptly banned Closer from any use or resale of the offending pictures, the most intimate of which showed the duchess topless and having suncream rubbed into her buttocks by William.
The Telegraph argued those photos were taken while the duchess was at a private chateau, but the Blue Mountains picture was on a public street.
“There is a very clear distinction between private and public property,” it said.
The British press reacted with outrage to Bild’s publication with the Daily Mail calling it “a breach of privacy” while blasting a “crude” caption that appeared alongside.
Others reproducted the image but pixelated Kate’s bottom with the Daily Mirror saying she would be “deeply dismayed” by the embarrassing image.
The decision to run the photo sparked division in Australia with one comment on the Telegraph website saying “we’ve all got one, so what’s the fuss”.
Others were more critical. “It doesn’t matter who has had a ‘wardrobe malfunction’, the photo shouldn’t appear in the press,” a reader said.