Scandal! Topless Photos of Kate Middleton Emerge

The duchess was caught sunbathing topless while in France last week -- Palace is calling this a "grotesque and totally unjustifiable" invasion of privacy

Topless photos of Kate Middleton are currently plastered across the cover of French magazine Closer, and the Royal Family is livid.

These aren't old cell phone pictures that have been hacked or a body double posing as the princess, either. The images -- click here for a peek -- were snapped last week by an audacious photographer while the royal couple was vacationing at a French chateau owned by Queen Elizabeth's nephew Lord Linley, and there was an expectation of privacy in staying at the house. That's why the Duchess of Cambridge apparently felt comfortable enough to take her bikini top off while hanging out with her husband, Prince William.

Of course, there's no such thing as privacy when you're one of the most sought after couples in the world, and images of Middleton letting her guard -- and bathing suit top -- down are now out for the world to see. The palace is not pleased and has released a scathing statement threatening legal action.

"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 statement reads, via TMZ. "Their royal highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them."

The Royal Family is not taking this situation lightly. The statement claims that this is "reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales" -- who, as we all know, died tragically while fleeing French paparazzi in 1997.

"Officials acting on behalf of their royal highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to the Duke and Duchess," the statement claims.

A palace source speaking to People says that the mood back in the U.K. is "one of anger and disbelief," and that "we certainly feel like a red line's been crossed."

Apparently there is a U.K. version of Closer as well, but don't expect them to be running these pictures. The gossip rag immediately made it clear that they are two different entities, releasing a statement saying it would "like to make it clear that the two publications make entirely independent editorial decisions. In this respect the comments made by the Editor of the French edition which have reported in the media today do not reflect the opinions of Closer magazine U.K.."

And just to be even more clear, the U.K.'s Closer "would never publish topless images of a member of the Royal family on its cover or otherwise."

The royal couple is at least far away from the scandal. Will and Kate are currently in Malaysia on behalf of the Queen, and will next head to the rainforests of Borneo.

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