Why "Provocative" Meghan Markle Photos Are Being Used To Hurt Kate Middleton

It's part of a lawsuit over topless photos of Kate.

Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Correction, 6/21Closer magazine, which published the news story picked up on other outlets, has retracted its story about "provocative photos" of Meghan Markle and apologized.

In today's edition of women being pitted against one another: A team of French lawyers is arguing that because Meghan Markle once posed for "provocative" photos, it's a-okay for paparazzi to secretly photograph Kate Middleton sunbathing topless, The Telegraph reports.

Some background: Back in 2013, Meghan Markle posed for a consensual shoot with Men's Health—the key word here is "consensual"—and, in a video called "Grilling Never Looked So Hot," the then-actress took off some items of clothing. (Note: Men's Health is owned by Hearst, Marie Claire US' parent company.) What does this have to do with the crass invasion of privacy that was Kate Middleton being photographed topless, without her consent, on a private estate? Well, according to The Telegraph, lawyers for the French magazine who were sued for publishing topless photos of Kate will argue that, actually, there's precedent for members of the royal family posing for "revealing" shoots.

Here's the Men's Health video in question.

I shouldn't have to point out that there's a critical and obvious distinction between an actress taking part in a sultry shoot and a public figure being secretly filmed, half-naked, in a private location. The 2012 photographs were a painful invasion of Kate's privacy, and led to the Palace releasing its most angry statement in recent history.

Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so. Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.

The mention of Diana here is significant. Diana, of course, died in a car accident during a frenzied chase by the paparazzi (also in France). By linking her death to the publication of the Kate photos, the Palace was clearly saying: The no-holds-bared approach taken by some members of the European press has already done irreparable damage to our family—and now, this?

Thus far, the courts have agreed with the royal family and the French magazine that published the photos has been ordered to pay £92,000 of damages to Kate Middleton. This effort to pit Kate against Meghan is part of a legal appeal against the figure, with the magazine arguing that its punishment is "hypocritical." Because, you know, an actress who fell in love with Prince Harry many years later once appeared in a slightly suggestive shoot. Right.

Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018 she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership. When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.