The Irish Daily Star has published photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless while on holiday.

The pictures appeared on pages six and seven of the newspaper?s Republic of Ireland edition this morning.

They ran under a headline acknowledging the royals were launching legal action against  French magazine ?Closer? for printing topless photos of the Duchess on Friday.

St James?s Palace reacted to the news by saying: ?There can be no motivation for this action other than greed.?

Kate Middleton

Inside pages of the Irish Daily Star show several of the photographs

Northern And Shell, which owns the newspaper, said the pictures were a ?grotesque invasion of privacy? but said it had no editorial control over the publication.

Daily Star Sunday editor Gareth Morgan told Sky News: ?We?re absolutely horrified here in the office, and as a company. This has no merit as an editorial decision, it has no merit morally, it?s frankly a horrible decision.?

It came as an Italian weekly was preparing to include topless images of the Duchess in a special issue next week.

Chi

Italian magazine ?Chi? ? from the same publishing group as French magazine ?Closer? ?  said it would devote 26 pages to the series of pictures in an edition coming out on Monday.

A version of the front cover of the gossip publication showed some of the photos with the headline ?The Queen is Naked!?

?The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical,? editor Alfonso Signori told reporters.

?This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love,? he added.

The palace said it would not be commenting on any potential legal action concerning the intended publication of the photos in Italy.

?Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely justifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative?s home,? the palace added.

The magazine is due to go on sale on Monday

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Malaysia

The royals visit a mosque during their tour of the Far East

Both ?Chi? and the French magazine ?Closer? belong to the Mondadori Group which is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ? himself no stranger to scandals involving revealing photos taken by paparazzi.

Contacted by AFP, Mondadori Group declined to comment on the publications.

The wife of Prince William, second in line to the throne, was snapped while the couple were on holiday in Provence in the south of France at a chateau owned by Lord Linley, the Queen?s nephew, last week.

A furious Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are currently on tour in Asia, have launched legal action against Closer for invasion of privacy.

The publication was compared by the palace to the worst experiences of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the hands of the paparazzi.

The palace led a chorus of protests, describing the invasion of privacy as ?grotesque and totally unjustifiable?.

Royal aides drew parallels between Diana?s most upsetting encounters with certain elements of the press and the ?unthinkable? actions of the French magazine Closer, which left Kate and William feeling ?anger and disbelief?.

The royal couple arrived in Sabah in Borneo on Saturday to explore the region?s rainforests and visited the Royal Society?s South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP) in Danum Valley ? in what appeared to be a welcome relief from the distressing events.

The trip was planned because of the Duke?s long-standing interest in conservation and his connection to the Royal Society as a Fellow of the organisation.

They had spent yesterday in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur completing a busy schedule of events which saw them break new ground by visiting a mosque for the first time.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess in Kuala Lumpur

It was on Friday night that the palace announced that lawyers would be pursuing the matter through the French courts.

It is understood that the royal couple?s aim is to prevent further use of the images and to seek damages.

Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer, was unrepentant, defending her decision to publish the pictures during an interview with the French radio station Europe 1, insisting there was ?nothing degrading? about the photographs and claiming she could not understand the couple?s reaction.

Publishers of the UK edition of Closer distanced themselves from the French magazine.

Chief executive Paul Keenan of Bauer Media said his company deplored the publication of the ?intrusive and offensive pictures? and had ?complained in the strongest terms? to the firm which licensed the title in France.

He said Bauer had asked Closer France to remove the pictures and refrain from publishing any more.

Legal experts said the royal couple would have a strong case.

Thomas Roussineau, who specialises in privacy law, said publication of the photos undoubtedly breaks French privacy laws .

?It is totally forbidden,? he said. ?The castle is not the street, it is in a private place, and they are intimate pictures.?

But he said it was likely the magazine had weighed up the potential cost of a fine against the revenue the photos would bring.

Caroline Jan, solicitor at London-based firm Kingsley Napley?s media group and active member of the Franco-British Law Society, said it would be the ?biggest Franco-British privacy clash since Princess Diana?s death?.

She added: ?The French magazine publishing pictures of the Duchess is clearly testing the water in a country where privacy laws are stricter than in the UK.?

But media lawyer Mark Stephens suggested William and Kate might not have the ability to take effective action over the photographs.

He said: ?It is obviously highly intrusive but as they have published the pictures the genie is out of the bottle.?

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