“Why were the British tabloids up in arms about the Duchess of Cambridge’s boobs on show and her privacy punctured by a French magazine? Is it yet another not-so-easy-to-understand manifestation of British humour?” It’s only when I was asked these questions at a conference in Latin America that I realised what I usually dismiss as tabloid nonsense can be scrutinised intensely by many all over the world. I looked at the material again and I was shocked by its absurdity.
I was dumbfounded when I discovered that Express editor Richard Desmond – himself a notorious purveyor of pornography as former publisher of Asian Babes – threatened to close down the version of his daily newspaper in Ireland, the Irish Daily Star, for having also published the pictures. It was not surprising that some people truly believed that he may have finally came to his senses and renounced showing breasts to sell newspapers. Not at all! His other paper, the UK Daily Star had no shame waxing lyrics about the pain of Kate and, at the same time, splashed a topless 22-year old on its page 3. Its on-line version, on the other hand, continued to have a full section devoted to breasts or, as it calls it, babes.
Similarly, his main competitor in the Murdoch’s stable, The Sun, had no problem giving its wholehearted support to the duchess suing the photographer and, only a few pages later, splashed a picture of Kelly from Daventry dangling her breasts. The online version was also teeming with pictures of half-naked women.
As for Trinity Mirror top titles, The People and The Mirror, they refrained from printing the pictures of Kate, but they did very well with others. The first splashed photos of actress Helen Mirren, snapped by paparazzi on the beach in a bikini, and The Mirror's website preferred a naked former escort Jenny Thompson (who once slept with Wayne Rooney) covering her breasts and genitals with her hands.
As for the Daily Mail’s stuffy approach, it is punctured every now and again by its website sidebar brimming with pictures enthralling its readers with celebrities' breasts.
All these tabloids, and others, agree on one thing – you can print pictures of scantily-clad women as long as they are not royals.
Serious analysts saw in this fake furore an attempt to influence Lord Justice Leveson report, due shortly, on press regulation. The story has already produced a backlash in Ireland where the new model of press regulation, a model being considered by Leveson, came under attack from those who think it will not work and prefer full-blown privacy laws instead. It is worth remembering that the French magazine Closer went ahead and published Kate’s photos in breach of such legislation already in place in France, taking a calculated risk.