Kate Middleton, British royals, and Berlusconi

I can hardly discuss at this blog all aspects of the controversy about publication of topless photographs of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William of Britain.

I should just remark that French magazine Closer, which published the photos, is part of the Italian billionaire and ex-Prime Mister Silvio Berlusconi‘s empire.

Silvio Berlusconi is maybe the most hypocritical man in the world about scantily dressed women.

In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi‘s party bans miniskirts and low-cut dresses. Berlusconi himself censors women’s breasts on eighteenth century art.

Tiepolo, La Verità svelata dal Tempo, uncensored version, censored by Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi became a super-rich media boss, as a springboard for Prime Minister later, by endlessly parading women with “miniskirts, too much cleavage” on his TV networks.

This video from Italy is called Berlusconi’s party of EU candidates.

As Prime Minister, Berlusconi endlessly violated every rule in the sexual rulebook of the conservative wing of the Roman Catholic church, and Berlusconi’s own political Right wing linked to it.

However, when Italian women themselves, on their own initiative, not on Berlusconi’s orders, wear “miniskirts, too much cleavage”, then Berlusconi’s Right wingers want to set the police on them; like fellow Right wingers in Poland, in the USA, Chile, and elsewhere.

And then, Berlusconi‘s suddenly prudish censorship of eighteenth century art. Double standards, anyone?

Jordan Shilton from Britain writes about the Middleton photos issue:

British royals take criminal action over topless photograph

21 September 2012

The British public has once again been subject to saturation coverage of the royal family over the past week, after the French magazine Closer published photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton topless. A photographer had taken the images whilst she was on holiday with her husband Prince William in the South of France earlier this month.

The royal household responded aggressively to the pictures, denouncing their publication as a “breach” of the right to privacy. Lawyers for the royal couple sought, and obtained, an order in a French court banning future printing of the images.

A royal spokesman went so far as to draw a parallel with the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana, 15 years ago, commenting, “This is disappointing, saddening and turns the clock back 15 years. We have always maintained the position that the Duke and Duchess deserve their privacy, not least when they are on holiday in their own swimming pool.”

Criminal prosecutions are now being pursued against the photographer, although the magazine has yet to release its source. On Wednesday morning, French police raided the Paris offices of Closer to obtain the photographer’s identity.

The legality of the raid was questioned by Christophe Bigot, a barrister who practices in media law, who suggested it had been authorised solely because the royal family was involved. Bigot told the Daily Mail, “A law of January 2, 2010 protects the confidentiality of sources, as do numerous decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In the case of William and Kate, I do not see how a prosecutor could justify a search of Closer.”

These moves represent a grave attack on press freedom, launched by one of the most reactionary institutions of the British state. The criminal prosecution of an as yet unknown photographer is being used to intimidate others and ultimately suppress any media coverage not sanctioned by the House of Windsor.

Often presented as merely figureheads, with few remaining powers, the reality is quite different. A report in June estimated the total wealth of the royal family at over $1 billion—a gross underestimation.

A recent Guardian investigation uncovered that current and previous governments had sought the consent of Prince Charles to pass at least 12 pieces of legislation since 2005. This was due to a provision which permits Charles to veto any piece of legislation that interferes in his “private interests.” These relate mainly to his control over the Duchy of Cornwall, which is worth a total of £700 million and generated an income for the Prince of £18 million last year.

The hysteria stirred up over the photos is already being used by governments to promulgate new repressive legislation. In Ireland, where a daily newspaper republished the pictures, Minister of State Alan Shatter has declared his intention to review a 2006 act which introduced new press regulations.

Michael O’Kane, editor of Ireland’s Daily Star which printed the images, has been suspended pending an investigation. Meanwhile, the online shopping service eBay has removed all copies of the edition of Closer in which the pictures were initially published.

The boundless cynicism which characterises the response to the latest episode will be lost on no one. The British royals thrive on a close relationship with the media, built up over decades. Behind their current posture as defenders of privacy, both have created an environment in which the press bombards the public with coverage of the royals’ every move.

William and Catherine are the subject of constant press attention. No such qualms over privacy were shown when press reports breathlessly informed the public of how the “then Kate Middleton” wooed her prince by parading in a sheer outfit at a private fashion show.

Their wedding was utilised, at considerable public expense, as an occasion for fawning tributes to the monarchy by the media establishment. The royal couple were portrayed as the modernising face of an age-old institution, with Catherine presented to the population as “our Kate” or the “people’s princess.”

This has continued throughout the Diamond Jubilee, London’s hosting of the Olympics, and the recent royal tour of Asia. The latest favoured topic of speculation is the attempt to determine whether or not Catherine is pregnant.

The British press was universal in its support for the Royals. Not a single paper printed the images, and the decision by publications in France, Italy and Ireland to do so was denounced. With breathtaking hypocrisy, the Sun declared in typical jingoistic style, “The final irony is that it is France—smug, privacy-obsessed France—that published grossly intrusive pictures no decent British paper would touch with a bargepole.”

Probably, this hypocritical Murdoch press comment was inspired by Rupert Murdoch’s quarrels with his former buddy Silvio Berlusconi.

This came barely a month after the same newspaper revelled in printing nude images of Prince Harry at a party in Las Vegas. At the time, there were rumours of plans within the royal family to sue the newspaper, after they failed to dissuade the Sun from publicising the pictures.

As for the self-serving claims that the royals must enjoy the same right to privacy as “ordinary” people, the reality is that there is no such right for the mass of the population.

Britain has the highest number of CCTV cameras in the world, with estimates suggesting that an average citizen appears on camera 300 times per day.

Moreover, on top of the vast apparatus of anti-terrorist legislation erected after 9/11, the government is preparing to implement measures that will facilitate a massive expansion of state surveillance. Under draft proposals in the Communications Data Bill, the Home Secretary will be granted the power to retain any data on all citizens without a specific purpose. The measures will not be open to judicial review, and would cover all methods of communication, including text messages, online social media and tapping telephones.

Footage has emerged of the Queen appearing to express mild irritation at Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for being too noisy: here.

13 thoughts on “Kate Middleton, British royals, and Berlusconi

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  2. Hypocrisy of media and the ruling class

    The most farcical reaction to the topless pictures of Kate Middleton has come from Richard Desmond, the chairman of media company Northern & Shell.

    Desmond part-owns The Irish Daily Star which published the photos. He declared, “I am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture. Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”

    All very admirable. Except Richard Desmond is a pornographer. He has built his media empire on the profits of such titles as Horny Housewives and Only 18.

    He also owns porn TV channels, the celebrity magazine OK! and The Star and The Daily Express, which run near-daily campaigns against immigrants and asylum-seekers.

    Desmond has spent his life exploiting women’s sexuality for profit. It’s only in the case of Middleton that this squalid man takes the position as a champion of public taste and a guardian of “privacy”.

    It’s nice to know that even a pornographer has limits. They’re where the ruling-class are involved.

    Sasha Simic, east London



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  6. Vultures circle body of dead woman

    Right wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch last week speculated that the Sun might soon get rid of the soft porn on its Page 3.

    But within days the paper reminded the world how low its other pages could stoop in terms of objectifying women.

    Its cover story was the killing of model Reeva Steenkamp by her athlete boyfriend.

    It struggled to fit the victim’s name on the page—but there was plenty of space for a full length shot of her in a bikini.

    The Mirror’s website went one further with an almost naked photo on its website.

    A murder is bad news—but not for the creeps who run the sexist British media.

    The papers that every day publish long lens shots of female celebrities raged at the Australian mag that ran photos of Duchess Kate in her bikini.

    It seems it’s fine to exploit images of women’s bodies without consent—but only when they don’t belong to the royals.



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