Kate Middleton Topless & More Naked Royals (Photos)

See skin scandals involving Princess Diana, Queen Victoria, and—gasp!— Prince Philip.

The palace is furious after topless photos of Kate Middleton on vacation were published in a French magazine. See skin scandals involving Princess Diana, Queen Victoria, and—gasp!—Prince Philip.

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Kate Middleton 

Photos from Prince Harry's reckless Las Vegas partying are one thing, but when the French magazine Closer published topless photographs of Kate Middleton  on vacation in the south of France, St. James's Palace blew its top and released a statement of outrage: “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 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.” The palace also noted that “officials acting on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to The Duke and Duchess.”


Prince Philip

Where did Prince Harry get that exhibitionist streak? It apparently comes from his 91-year-old grandfather. Over the weekend, Prince Philip was photographed at the Highland Games in Scotland, and he forgot to cross his legs while wearing a kilt. Or put on underwear. While phallologists debate whether Philip is actually revealing his royal lowness, Her Majesty the Queen, thankfully, remains a paragon of virtue. / Splash News

Prince Harry

Apparently not everyone in Prince Harry’s entourage got the “What happens in Vegas…” memo, but then again sometimes you just can’t trust the complete strangers you play strip pool with. On Tuesday, TMZ published naked photos of the man who is third in line to the British throne covering his crown jewels after a wild night at the Wynn hotel that included a swimming race against Olympian Ryan Lochte. So how did such a shocking lapse in royal discretion occur? Harry’s security people “dropped the ball,” according to TMZ. “When the girls entered the room, we’re told the ladies were NOT asked to surrender their phones,” the site reported, “an epic failure considering Harry’s well-documented wild side. As the party fired up, several girls began to snap pics on their cellphones … and one of Harry’s minders lackadaisically told the women, ‘Awww, come on…no photos.’”


Princess Diana

Perhaps proving that the naked apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, in 1994, Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was photographed by the paparazzi sunbathing topless on Spain’s Costa Del Sol. Although the British media declined to publish the actual bare-breasted images, Diana (who was separated from Prince Charles at the time) claimed that being photographed like that felt “like a rape.” But Ross Benson, who had published a biography of Charles, told People magazine at the time: “She must have known the consequences of going topless—she’s not new to this game. She needs media attention to give her a sense of her own identity. [The irony is that] she complains bitterly about the press, yet she courts certain members of it.”


Princess Stephanie

As the wild child of Monaco’s royal family, Princess Stephanie was frequently photographed on topless beaches in the 1980s. But even by the laissez-faire standards of European nudity, Stephanie’s behavior was seen as unbecoming of a royal. The youngest child of Grace Kelly, the princess was soon reined in by her father, Prince Rainier, and began a new (and ironic) business venture: designing one-piece bathing suits. After attending a fashion show for Stephanie’s first collection, family friend Karl Lagerfeld deemed it “a very good collection—just like the princess wears in real life. It is sporty, very colorful, modern and chic.” 

Sipa Press

Sarah Ferguson

It’s hard to say which of Sarah Ferguson’s scandals ranks highest, but for sheer comedy calories, it’s difficult to top the 1992 episode in which she was photographed sunbathing topless with American financier John Bryan, who was sucking on her toes. Complicating matters at the time for the Duchess of York: she was still married to Prince Andrew and was actually staying with the royal family at Balmoral when The Daily Mirror ran the now-infamous images. “People will be able to make up their own minds [about the photos],” the palace said coolly. That included Prince Andrew, who divorced Fergie four years later.

Danny Martindale

Princess Srirasmi

WikiLeaks doesn’t just seek transparency from governments, sometimes they want actual nudity. In 2009, the site published a scandalous video  of Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn attending a decadent birthday party for his poodle, Foo Foo (who holds the official rank Air Chief Marshal). “Foo Foo was present at the event, dressed in formal evening attire complete with paw mitts,” the Telegraph reported, “and at one point during the band’s second number, he jumped up on to the head table and began lapping from the guests’ water glasses.” Seated next to the prince that evening was his royal consort, Princess Srirasmi, who was topless.

Tim Graham

Sophie Rhys-Jones

Sometimes the British press revels in uncovering royal scandals and sometimes they get spanked like Anastasia Steele. In 1999, the Sun published decade-old topless photographs of Sophie Rhys-Jones a few weeks before her wedding to Prince Edward, and the backlash was immediate. Buckingham Palace called the publication of the vacation photos “premeditated cruelty” and the prime minister’s office noted ominously that “[press] freedom comes with responsibility.” And with that, Rhys-Jones’s honeymoon with the media ended before her actual honeymoon began. 

Gianni Ferrari

The Duchess of Alba

Much like Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, the Duchess of Alba was caught in a topless photo scandal on the eve of her 2011 wedding. But what made the picture—which was published on the cover of the Spanish magazine Interviu—so shocking, was that the duchess was getting married at age 85. The photos, however, were taken 30 years earlier when the most titled woman in the world was closer in age to her 61-year-old fiancé. And though the duchess looked beautiful on the cover, her attorneys said they were considering suing the magazine for invasion of privacy.  But it’s not like she needs the money.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter / Wikipedia

Queen Victoria

Granted, this 1843 portrait of young Queen Victoria is not nearly as shocking as the 16th-century painting of Gabrielle d'Estrées, mistress of France’s King Henry IV, and her sister. In fact, it doesn’t even feature actual R-rated nudity. But by, well, Victorian standards, having the 24-year-old queen reveal her bare shoulders was simply too shocking for her subjects. The painting, done by Franz Xaver Winterhalter as a birthday present for her husband, Prince Albert, was displayed in public only once in 166 years, and became known as her “secret picture.” But in 2009, Buckingham Palace allowed the painting to be included in an exhibition celebrating Victoria and Albert’s love affair. After all, the queen contended it was “my darling Albert’s favorite picture.”