When French magazine Closer published photos of Kate Middleton topless on vacation in France, the royal family issued a statement calling the incident "reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales." They've also decided to sue the magazine, according to the AP.
That's a big contrast to how they approached the photos of Prince Harry partying naked in Las Vegas, which also surfaced recently. In that case, taking the matter to court was never discussed. Typically, the royal family has a policy against suing the media, and the British media largely cooperates with respecting their privacy to a certain degree. The royal family requested that the photos of Prince Harry not be published, and the media mostly complied. Only one paper, The Sun, published the photos, and when they did, the royal family issued a statement saying, "We have no further comment to make either on the publication of the photographs or on the story itself concerning Prince Harry's private holiday in Las Vegas," according to the BBC. "We have made our views on Prince Harry's privacy known. Newspapers regulate themselves, so the publication of the photographs is ultimately a decision for editors to make," they added.
Though Harry's photos were no doubt an invasion of privacy, the royals chose to let the photos slide, seeming to hope the situation would blow over. They appear to have a different strategy with Kate: they're suing.
As members of the royal family have now themselves acknowledged, they are treating Kate like the new Diana.
In 1993, Princess Diana sued over photos taken of her by the owner of a London gym, LA Fitness, where she worked out. Though the photos weren't nude, they were taken secretly by a peeping tom who would sell the photos to a British tabloid, the Sunday Mirror Diana's lawyers successfully won an injunction against having the photos published further. As Tina Brown writes in her book The Diana Chronicles, "Just by suing, she would win points with the Queen and Prince Philip, who were particularly gung ho about punishing 'the scum.'"
Certainly, Princess Diana, who was exercising, and Kate — who was in a private house on vacation in France, where privacy laws are strict — had their personal privacy terribly violated. Prince Harry's situation was somewhat different, in that he was partying — presumably drunk — in a Las Vegas hotel room and the photo was taken by someone in the room, not by a person in hiding. But in all three cases, a person sold an inappropriate photograph of a royal family member to the press for monetary gain. It's interesting that in the case of Diana and Kate, women who married into the family, they're breaking their policy of not suing the media.
Of course, Prince Harry has a reputation for partying and finding himself in unsavory situations, while Kate was innocently sunbathing in private. But there is extra reason for the royal family to be extra protective of Kate: the reality that she will likely be Queen, not to mention the wonders she's done for the not-always-stellar image of the royal family as a whole.