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Magazine defends photos of pregnant, bikini-clad Duchess of Cambridge

By Max Foster, Laura Smith-Spark and Susannah Palk, CNN
February 14, 2013 -- Updated 0308 GMT (1108 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Editor of the Italian magazine Chi defends its use of photos of the Duchess of Cambridge
  • The photos show her in "a small bikini that enhances her now visible (baby) bump," Chi says
  • A disappointed St. James's Palace says the pictures violate her privacy
  • Chi was among the publications to run photos of Catherine sunbathing topless last year

London (CNN) -- The editor of an Italian magazine that has caused an uproar by publishing vacation photos of a bikini-clad Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, with her baby bump visible accused the international media Wednesday of overreacting.

Chi Editor-in-Chief Alfonso Signorini said the photos were not scandalous, do not "wrong the image" of the royal couple and "portray a couple in love in a happy moment while they are walking on the beach."

READ: Magazine vows to print pics of pregnant, bikini-clad Duchess of Cambridge

The photos were taken on a public beach and bought from an international agency, he said.

"We cannot talk about violation of privacy when we publish pictures of public people in a public place, out in the open as it is the case of a beach that is visited by other people," he said.

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St. James's Palace -- which represents Catherine, her husband, Prince William, and his brother, Harry -- responded with dismay Tuesday to news that the photos would be released.

"We are disappointed that photographs of the Duke and Duchess on a private holiday look likely to be published overseas," a palace representative said. "This is a clear breach of the couple's right to privacy."

READ: Pregnancy and privacy: Royal Catherine's dilemma

Despite the royal family's objections, an Australian magazine said it too would be publishing the images.

Woman's Day said it had won Australian publishing rights after two days of "furious bidding" between three magazines.

"It's ticking all the boxes, it's Kate who we love and adore, who's a fantastic cover girl, a great seller. It's a bikini shot, a beach shot, beautiful crystal blue water. And she's pregnant. It's the bump that we've been waiting to see for such a long time," Woman's Day editor Fiona Connolly told Australia's Ten News.

It was not immediately clear when or exactly where the pictures were taken. British and U.S. media -- including People, like CNN a division of Time Warner -- reported that the royal couple recently vacationed on the secluded Caribbean isle of Mustique.

Connolly said the images were taken at a public beach where the royal couple was mingling with other holidaymakers, describing the decision to publish them as "very easy."

She added: "Australians are so much more laid back about seeing bikinis and beach shots than the British are. I think there's a bit of hypersensitivity over this particular set (of photos)."

UK newspapers did not reproduce the images but wrote of the royal couple's anguish about the breach of privacy.

And broadcaster ITV issued an apology after its "This Morning" show "accidentally showed an unblurred image of the magazine cover, which briefly showed the photographs.

"This was a deeply regrettable error and we are very sorry," it said.

On Tuesday, Chi described the photos as "extraordinary images of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their dream holiday in the Caribbean."

"The future mum, now in her fourth month of pregnancy, wears a small bikini that enhances her now visible bump," the magazine said.

The Duchess, whose maiden name is Kate Middleton, has kept a low profile since the announcement in December that she is set to give birth to her first child in July. Images showing any evidence of a baby bump have been hard to come by in that time.

The Chi photos, though, are not her first encounter with paparazzi, which tracked her during her long courtship with William, their engagement and their time since April 2011 as a married couple.

The highest-profile example came in September 2012, when the French magazine Closer ran photographs of Catherine privately sunbathing topless while on a holiday with William in France.

READ: Danish magazine denies publishing fresh images of Catherine

Besides that magazine, some of those photos also were published in the Irish Daily Star newspaper and Chi, which according to its parent company Mondadori is a women's magazine with an average circulation of more than 218,000 and a readership well beyond that.

Soon after the photos came out, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took legal action against Closer, which was fined by a French court and ordered not to distribute the edition in print or online. It was also told to hand over the photos to the royals.

READ RELATED: The Duchess of Cambridge's fashion secrets revealed

CNN's Max Foster reported from Rome and Susannah Palk from London, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote the story from London. CNN's Gisella Deputato, Hada Messia and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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