Italian magazine Chi has confirmed it will publish as many as 50 photographs of Kate Middleton topless. The organisation also claims it has nearly 200 such images of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Chi intends to dedicate 26 pages to the photos in a special issue that will go on sale on 17 September.

The photos were taken while the royal couple were on a private vacation in France and first published by a French magazine called Closer, after which a media storm has erupted with the royal family having initiated legal measures against Closer. Both magazines - Closer and Chi - are owned by the Mondadori Group, run by the daughter of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Alfonso Signorini, the editor of Chi, has tweeted to say that even the Queen herself could not stop him from publishing the photographs. The 48-year-old said he was not afraid of any legal action in Italy because as far he was concerned the pictures were taken in a public place and there had been no invasion of privacy.

"I am convinced by this scoop that Chi will be publishing on Monday because that is what we are talking about. These pictures are not offensive or in poor taste, they are not morbid and they do not damage the dignity of anyone," Signorini wrote. "Instead the pictures that were published in Britain of Prince Harry were exactly that - if I didn't recognise the journalistic value of what I had then if I did not publish them I would be better off in a market selling artichokes. These pictures were taken while the couple were on a terrace and they were taken from a public place so there is no suggestion of an invasion of privacy."

The Chi cover, unveiled in Italian newspapers and on television, has three topless photographs of Kate Middleton with the headline: "Court Scandal: The Queen is Nude!"

Prince William and Kate Middleton are currently on a nine-day tour of the Asia-Pacific and have just arrived in the Solomon Islands to a rapturous reception. The Prince has been understandably angered by recent events, not least because of the circumstances surrounding the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. William has vowed to do all he can to protect his wife.

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