French Cops Prepare To Swoop on Kate Middleton's Topless Photographer

Couple were on tour in South Pacific when pictures were published

10.29.12 11:57 AM ET

French cops are preparing to collar on a paparazzo believed to have taken the topless photos of Kate Middleton at a villa in Provence after the name of the photographer responsible was passed to the police.

A source told The Daily Mirror's website today: "The photographer is expected to be held for questioning imminently."

If found guilty of taking the shots, the photographer, who is believed to be male, could be jailed for up to one year and fined £36,000.

Prince William shocked royal observers when he issued an emotional statement drawing comparisons between the Kate photos and the hounding of his mother, Princess Diana, and then launched a criminal case in France against the unnamed photographer and Closer magazine, which has since admitted hiring a freelance photographer to take the pictures.

Usually, the royal family declines to dignify such media activity with comment or reaction, and the strategy of launching legal action has been deplored to the Royalist by some royal sources as an unnecessary over reaction, however a royal source told the Mirror today: “William and Kate are determined to bring the person who took those photos to justice and they’re pushing hard for a custodial sentence. They want to make an example of this person.”

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Kate and husband William, 30, had been staying a week earlier at the Chateau d’Autet – owned by the Queen’s nephew, Lord Linley – when the photos were taken, from a public road.

Closer editor Laurence Pieau has confirmed the magazine hired a freelance photographer to watch the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their holiday but the publication has refused to reveal his name. Indeed, under French law, Closer magazine has the right to protect the identity of the snapper because of the country’s protection of journalistic sources.

At the time of publication she said: “What we saw in the pictures was a young couple who are just married, who are in love, who are beautiful, she is the princess of the 21st century. She’s a young woman who’s topless, just like the ones who can be seen on all of the beaches of France and the world. These pictures are full of joy, not degrading.”

Closer, owned by ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter Marina, has been prevented from distributing the pics by an injunction but they have been offered for sale across Europe.

Italian magazine Chi has printed 18 of the photos, the Irish Daily Star editor was suspended after publishing them and a gossip magazine in Denmark printed five pages of the snaps.

The probe into the identity of the photographer is being led by officials in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, according to

Check back for updates at the Royalist.