The editor of French Closer magazine has been charged with breaking France's privacy laws by publishing topless photographs of Kate Middleton.

Laurence Pieau and an unamed photographer have been formally charged after publishing the photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge last September.

A second photographer is also under investigation and is expected to be charged soon.

Pieau defended the decision to run the pictures, saying the pictures were "not degrading".

"These photos are not in the least shocking," she added.

"They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took legal action against the magazine after the photos were published.

A royal spokesman said at the time that the topless shots were "reminiscent of the worst excesses" of the paparazzi during Princess Diana's lifetime.

Closer was eventually fined for publishing the photos and told not to publish them again either in print or online.

The photos, shot from a distance in Provence in the south of France, were also published in Italy, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.

Publishing house Mondadori France's legal representative Ernesto Mauri, another unamed photographer and a senior editor of the newspaper La Provence were also charged in the same case.

The Duchess of Cambridge has recently given birth to her first child, Prince George, who is third in line to the throne.