Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Why did Kate Middleton sue over her naked pictures and her brother-in-law Prince Harry didn't?
—P. Yarrow, via Facebook
Indeed, after a French magazine published topless photos of the duchess, Mrs. Wales announced plans to hit back with une grande slap legalese, suing Closer for unspecified damages. The crux of the complaint: That a photographer invaded Kate's privacy by shooting her from a roadside a half-mile away, using a long-lens camera.
Harry, meanwhile, found himself in a similar situation after a naked romp in Vegas that did not, as they say, stay in Vegas. So, why didn't he call his own royal lawyers? I found out.
As similar as topless vacationing and naked vacationing may sound, the devil is in the details. And once you look at those details, Harry's and Kate's cases couldn't be more different.
Let's start with Harry's Vegas vacation. That sojourn involved at least one hotel room, one game of strip billiards, and a clutch of women whom Harry invited up to that room to participate in all those naked good times.
Somebody whipped out a camera phone, and the rest is, as they say, history.
In that case, it would be hard for the prince to argue a reasonable expectation of privacy—the key phrase in these kinds of lawsuits.
"He was in a hotel suite with other people who had been invited there," explains Dan Grigsby, a sports and entertainment specialist at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell. "Maybe, by putting people on notice, asking people to put away cell phones, Harry could have expected that event to be private, but he apparently did none of that."
Contrast that scenario with Harry's sister-in-law. Kate and husband Prince William were vacationing solo, part of a 4-day vacation in a remote French chateau.
"They believed they were alone," Grigsby says. "That helps him argue that he and his wife had a reasonable expectation of privacy."
Not only alone but, really, in the middle of nowhere.
"You can't lay out topless at the pool at the Century Plaza Hotel and have a reasonable expectation of privacy," Grigsby argues. "You can say, ‘Well, heck, it's a private pool,' but you're not alone. That's the difference."
As for damages, the royals probably aren't expecting a huge cash payout. Valerie Trierweiler, a journalist as well as the girlfriend of French President François Hollande, recently sued a magazine after it published photos of her in a bikini. The payout? The equivalent of less than $2,500.
"They're not doing this for the money," Grigsby supposes of Kate and William. "This is probably more about warning off other publications from reprinting the photos."
Or taking any new ones.