Copies of French magazine Closer, showing topless photographs of Kate Middleton, along with Prince William, have hit the stands across France. The magazine has drawn considerable and heated criticism from both the British royal family (who are considering legal action) and the general public, over its conduct in this incident and for violating the privacy of William and Kate.

The weekly celebrity gossip magazine reportedly carries a five-page spread of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless on a balcony pool at a château in Provence in the south eastern part of France. The royal couple were there on a private holiday and left for the nine day tour of the Far East (where they are now) a week later. William and Kate are presently in Malaysia, where they visited the country's largest mosque.

This scandal comes hot on the heels of that involving Prince Harry and indelicate photographs of the 27 year old Apache helicopter pilot partying in Las Vegas.

"After the holidays of Prince Harry in Vegas, discover the very sensual shots of Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William," the magazine wrote in a teaser to the issue's launch, adding, "A little over a year after their marriage, the royal couple was offered a romantic getaway, far from the protocol, etiquette in a very garden of Eden. Almost alone in the world ... For Closer was there!"

This difficult revelation will not harm or disrupt the couple's tour of East Asia. However, an earlier IBTimes UK report did confirm the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in talks with French lawyers to decide on further action. Meanwhile, the entire incident has been decried by a number of people, including the royal family, of being reminiscent of the severity of media interest in the life of the late Princess Diana.

Check out photographs of magazine copies displayed at newspaper kiosks in Nice in the south of France