Sleazy topless Duchess snaps expose William and Kate's naivety
Let's be clear. The Duchess of Cambridge had her privacy invaded. Contrary to the guff spouted by the editor of the French magazine which originally published the photographs of Kate topless, these are not innocuous pictures of a young couple in love.
In fact, they are shocking in their voyeurism, displayed as a kind of titillating striptease. They look more like the work of a Peeping Tom than a celebration of connubial bliss.
Prince William and his wife have every right to be outraged. It wasn't journalism, it was stalking. If it happened to an "ordinary" young woman, it would still be shocking.
But Catherine Middleton isn't "ordinary" and the Cambridges are not - as can be seen by the endless 'Is Kate preggers?' stories - an "ordinary" young couple, madly in love or not.
William is due to be King and Kate his Queen. That's what makes them special. Throw in the fact that Kate is shaping up to be an iconic figure reminiscent of Diana and you have simply too much temptation for the Press.
Since Kate arrived on the scene, what would have been the Holy Grail, the El Dorado, the Treasure of Sierra Madre, for the paparazzi?
Easy. Topless photos.
However, unlike similar photos of starlets, stars and singers, these pictures are not seven-day wonders or even, in some cases, carefully-staged career boosts.
Royalty carries a certain mystique and dignity which makes the idea of Kate topless the ultimate jackpot for cash-hungry and principle-free photographers.
Now Kate has given that to them. That she should slip up in such an inept fashion is puzzling because, until then, she hadn't put an LK Bennett-clad foot wrong. Indeed, she was undoing much of the damage the Windsors had done to themselves over the last two decades.
The truth is, it's just wiser for a royal to keep as much clothes on as possible when not behind closed doors. Unfair? Well, the world is unfair. It doesn't run on love and sunshine. Instead, greed, lust and opportunism are the brute realities that have to be reckoned with by anybody in the public eye - especially the world's No 1 photographic target.
It may have been a private situation but it was a balcony and, as such, Kate could be seen by any chance passer-by.
Besides, assuming that the Royal couple were being protected by a small army of bodyguards and served by at least some domestics, is it particularly smart or dignified, for Kate to be parading about semi-naked for more than two eyes? She should have known better. So should William.
Royalty plus nudity always equals bad news for the Windsors. You'd have thought after Harry's Las Vegas shenanigans, that aides would have been advising all members of 'The Firm' to be ultra-discreet.
Just because the Duchess has a right to prance round half-dressed in what she thought was a private situation, doesn't mean it was wise to exercise that right. And now we have the result of this naivety: the future Queen in all her glory. These photographs will be in circulation for as long as there is an internet and, no matter how adept she is at the PR game, they will haunt the monarchy for decades.
Still, let's be fair to the Duchess. This is not like Prince Harry and the Showgirl, the Duchess of Wessex and the false sheik, Fergie and her debts, Charles and his philandering, even Diana and her very public love-life and her cute management of the media. Kate is the victim of a sleazy act.
And as such, she, like any woman exposed in this way, deserves our sympathy. The depressing lesson to be learned from this whole sorry saga is that the world is what it is; not how we would like it to be. And just because that moral is depressing, it doesn't make it any less true, Kate.