A screenshot of Catherine and a cover page of the French magazine, Closer, showing topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Rome -

The editor of the Italian gossip magazine Chi on Monday defended the publication of topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince William.

The magazine, owned by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, published a special edition with a 28-page report on the duchess and the British royal family, including 18 paparazzi pictures of Kate and William sunbathing in a private villa.

It also ran an article headlined 'Kate's breasts: natural or enhanced?,' which concluded that the duchess had not had plastic surgery.

“Rather than getting angry with the media, which are exercising nothing more than their right to inform, the Royal Palace should, in my very humble opinion, take the opportunity to comment on this scoop with typical British humour and say 'so what?',” Alfonso Signorini wrote in an editorial.

The House of Windsor should not complain, Signorini argued, because showing the Duchess acting as a “normal” young woman “similar in all respects to millions of girls all over the world” has “contributed to rejuvenate (the image of) the English monarchy.”

The pictures were first published on Friday by Closer, a French magazine also owned by the Berlusconi family. The Irish Daily Star, a tabloid, followed on Saturday.

The royal couple has reacted with outrage.

“The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the duke and duchess for being so,” an official statement said.

A French court is to hear on injunction against Closer on Monday over the publication of the pictures. - Sapa-dpa