Agency: Anomaly London
The French gossip magazine, published by Mondadori, caused controversy by printing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge at a private château in the south of France, believed to have been taken with a long telephoto lens from a road 1 km away.
St James's Palace condemned the publication of the photos of the Duchess as a "grotesque and totally unjustifiable" invasion, and announced plans to sue Mondadori for "breach of privacy".
Closer France had attempted to justify its decision to publish the pictures, with editor Laurence Pieau, saying in French: "The photos we chose are by no means degrading. They show a young couple on vacation, beautiful, in love, living a normal life. The article reports that the couple recently vacationed in the south of France."
However, last night all images of the Duchess, including the front cover of this week’s magazine, had been removed from the publisher’s web pages.
In addition to facing potentially costly legal proceedings from the Palace, the French publisher could yet lose the licence to use the magazine brand at all, with UK licensor Bauer Media admitting it is urgently reviewing its partnership.
Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media, said last night: "As the owners of the Closer brand and publishers of Closer magazine we have complained in the strongest terms to the licensee of Closer France, over the publication by them of photographs of their Royal Highnesses, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
"We deplore the publication of these intrusive and offensive pictures and have asked that Closer France takes these pictures down immediately from its website and desist from publishing any further pictures.
"Bauer Media and Closer UK regards publication of these photographs as a gross intrusion of their Royal Highness’ privacy.
"We were not aware in advance of the purchase of these photographs or of any intention to publish. We have absolutely no control over the editorial decisions of Closer France.
"In the light of their publication, we are now urgently discussing this matter with our licensee and reviewing the terms of our licence agreement with Closer France.
"Like our readers we are appalled and regret the pain the publication of these photographs has caused."
Bauer Media, part of German giant Bauer Media Group, has a long established and highly-lucrative publishing relationship with Mondadori, which is headquartered in Italy, including the publication of Europe's most successful weekly magazine of the last decade, Grazia.
In developments that will cause further anguish at the Palace, Closer France's Pieau said more revealing photos of the Duchess are currently being offered to publishers.
"I won’t hide the fact that there are more intimate pictures that exist that we haven’t published and will not publish," she said.
Another Mondadori magazine, this time part of its Italian operation, has already announced plans to publish a 26-page special issue featuring photographs of the Duchess topless next week.
In a statement, Chi's editor, Alfonso Signorini, said: "The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical.
"This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love."
Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter: @DurraniMix
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk