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Another Naked Royal

I can't help feeling a little guilty. Just a while ago I concluded that the appearance of photos of a naked Prince Harry was probably one of the most popular moves the British royal family had made in years. A few weeks later, photographs of his sister-in-law sunbathing topless became an ever greater sensation. I hope Buckingham Palace hasn't been taking my observations too seriously – there are dozens of other royals we have yet to see unclothed, most of them a lot less attractive than Harry or Kate.
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I'm sure Poland is eager to read an Englishman's reaction to the publication of semi-nude photographs of his future queen, and there are in fact interesting conclusions to be drawn from the incident. Before we get to those, however, it's worth pointing out the most obvious conclusion: that the French are perverts – something the English have suspected for hundreds of years.

The editor of French magazine Closer justified her decision to publish the photos by saying: "These photos are not in the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches." This may be factually true, but doesn't explain why the magazine would go to the trouble of acquiring photographs of this particular young woman taken from almost a kilometre away using the photographic equivalent of a sniper scope.

The answer, of course, is that this isn't 'a young woman,' it's the Duchess of Cambridge. For a country that's supposed to be rigorously republican, there seems to be an unusual level of French interest in the activities of the royal family on the other side of the water. Sounds like jealousy to me.

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The really interesting question that has been raised by the flashing of Kate Middleton's boobs is about privacy. The royal family, and most Brits, have taken the view that our future queen should be free to do whatever she wants to do in private without fear of the results being splashed across the world's celebrity magazines. I take a different view.

The reason it is impossible to imagine topless photographs of a young Queen Elizabeth II is not because there were no unscrupulous French photographers around in the 1950s, it's because the young Princess Elizabeth would never have taken the risk of damaging the reputation of the family by taking her top off outside. In other words, she would have taken the view that she was not free to do whatever she wanted, because of her position in the social structure of the nation.

I thought of this change in attitude from the importance of duty to the importance of personal freedom re-watching the hit film The King's Speech the other day. If King George VI had been alive today, would we have seen the story of a man overcoming an unfortunate disability in order to bolster the morale of the nation, or the story of a man fighting to be accepted for who he was, whatever his disabilities? I'm not sure which one I would find more inspiring.

Jamie Stokes

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