An Australian magazine has said it will publish the pictures of Kate Middleton in a bikini, revealing her baby bump.

Woman's Day made the announcement after Italian magazine Chi said it plans to run the pictures in its forthcoming issue.

Fiona Connolly, editor of Woman's Day, said the Duchess of Cambridge looks "fit and fabulous" in the snaps, taken on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

She said that while the magazine chose not to run the images of Kate topless on holiday in France last year, these images show the duchess looking happy and healthy, adding that St James' Palace is being overly sensitive.

Connoly told "It wasn't a hard decision to run these photos.

"She is on a public beach and she was mingling with holiday makers. There are other holiday makers in the photos. It's a very different situation to the nude photos, there is no photographer hiding in the bushes and she is not inside a private villa."

"Aussies are a lot more laid back and when it comes to the beach and our readers will see these as something we do in do in everyday life. We see these sort of photos every day.

"Kate looks amazing and fit and fabulous, she looks so much better than the poorly and sickly woman we saw coming out of hospital which make these photos more of a celebration."

The pictures are believed to show Kate, Prince William and the duchess' sister, Pippa Middleton.

Gentleman's agreement

Yesterday, when Chi announced it would be printing the pictures, St James' Palace said it was "disappointed" with the decision, saying it was a "clear breach of the couple's right to privacy".

"We are disappointed that photographs of the Duke and Duchess on a private holiday look likely to be published overseas," a spokesman said.

Responding, Connoly added: "Everyone but the UK has or will publish these pics," she said. "The British press has collectively made a deal with the palace (but a) gentleman's agreement over there doesn't affect us over here.

"We are sensitive to photos that shouldn't be published, for instance I haven't laid eyes on the nude photos of Kate."

Last summer, Chi, which is owned by former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, published a 26-page special showing the Duchess topless while on holiday in France.

The royal couple tried to take legal action to prevent the images being printed, but had limited success.