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Stephen M. Twigg Headshot

Topless Kate - The Real Price of Tittle Tattle

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So once again we have a paparazzo clandestinely taking photos of an attractive female member of the royal family with her breasts exposed, in what she assumed was a private situation where she was safe - and once again we have editors willing to buy and publish the embarrassing images so the world can gawp at them.

Already the resulting photos are on the internet and it will surprise no one if British tabloids argue that since the pictures are now readily available across the globe, the press should have the freedom to show their readers what all the fuss is about - in the public interest.

Commentary about the incident so far ranges from the sympathetic to the cynical and the downright hostile. Quite common is the view that those blessed with beauty, position and wealth should not complain at such a minor inconvenience as that of having their semi-nude body exposed to the scrutiny of billions of strangers. After all what harm can it do?

Quite a lot actually, is the answer to that question.

In May 1994, pictures taken surreptitiously of Diana, Princess of Wales, as she adjusted her swim suit while sunbathing beside a Malaga swimming pool, were offered to the world's press for £1 million. Those photos were purchased and disposed of by Eduardo Junco, proprietor of Hello magazine in Spain, so they would not be seen by the public.

The incident impacted heavily on Diana's emotional state, nervous system, muscles and digestion. The effects lasted for days that time. Regardless of how she seems to be coping, Kate will be experiencing similar, as will her husband, who has now seen his wife subjected to the same kind of hurtful exposure as his mother, who described the intrusion as "like a rape."

The accumulated effects of similar invasions of her privacy, one after another during the years she was in the public eye, were undoubtedly damaging to Diana's state of health and peace of mind. We can only wait and see whether Kate can place these latest events, and her concerns about what the future might bring, into a context that will enable her to remain well and happy with herself, her life and her marriage. One thing is certain, she will be changed by this incident and others that will certainly occur in the future.

Everything that happens shapes the events which follow it. Invasion of privacy, that embarrasses its target for no good reason other than the personal gain of the perpetrators, causes genuine physical and psychological harm to the victim - but the damage goes beyond that. The lack of understanding and compassion required, to take and distribute distasteful images of other human beings who would certainly object if they could, erodes the humanity of those who commit the act and the voyeurs who cannot stop themselves sneaking a peek at what would enrage them if the pictures were of their own relatives.

In this latest situation the victims are a future king and queen of Britain. They already have an immense potential for carrying out humanitarian work that will benefit millions, and in the future they will have greater influence still, for good if they choose to exercise it. They will have been affected already by what they have experienced and at least one outcome is likely to be a detrimental shift, however subtle, in their attitude towards the media, and the public which condones its activities by buying offensive material or viewing it on line. What change in outlook and commitment to their roles do you think is likely if they find themselves treated with similar contempt, time and again, over the coming years?