I suppose I can see as a matter of principle that it's objectionable to furtively photograph a woman with a telephoto lens while she is sunbathing topless on secluded private property, and then to publish those photos. But somehow I'm totally unmoved by the revelation that Prince William is "incandescent with rage" on his wife's behalf. Nor am I inclined to fall dutifully into line with Nicholas Witchell's demand for us to see the Royal couple as uniquely put-upon victims who are showing extraordinary dignity in impossible circumstances. And I'm not sure my reaction is entirely irrational.
The Royal Family claims to be (and is claimed by others to be) "above politics", but in truth it's a thoroughly political institution. As Gerry Hassan recently reminded us, their position at the apex of the constitution even affords them power to veto or influence legislation in secret. The frighteningly effective propaganda operation to justify the continuation of such unjustifiable privilege is not in place for us, or for the British tourist industry as we're sometimes risibly told - it's entirely there for them, and for other members of the establishment who benefit from the constitutional status quo. The choice of Kate for William's spouse was part of that propaganda operation, and was thus a political act. Yes, I'm sure it was a love match, but it was a highly convenient one, and if William had chosen "unwisely" we can safely assume he would have been quietly asked to think again, just as his father was more than three decades ago. The projection of Kate's beauty and charm is entirely political, and when it goes awry as it did in France it's a political mishap. We don't generally feel particularly sorry for politicians who suffer mishaps in their propaganda operations, so why should we react any differently in this case? The royals scarcely need any sympathy from the likes of us, anyway - they're already guaranteed the type of unquestioning sympathy from even "neutral" segments of the media that would make any self-respecting politician blush. Instead of sceptically scrutinising the exercise of political power on the part of the royals, the media are happy to uphold the embroidered fantasy of Kate as a storybook princess, a uniquely special and virtuous person, above the rest of us, whom the normal rules do not apply to, and who is therefore degraded by being seen minus a few of her clothes in a way that would only otherwise apply to the Pope's wife.
By the way, it's political on Kate's own part as well - she chose this life for herself in order to accrue power, which can be reasonably characterised as political power. I can hear the romantics out there saying "she can't help who she fell in love with", but that doesn't wash. Her fateful choice was not to marry William, it was to accept the role of future queen. If the right to live in peace and quiet with the person you love is all that matters to Kate and William, they had the option of marrying, renouncing all claim to the crown and living as private citizens. And if unauthorised topless photos of Kate had been published in that scenario, she'd have deserved all the sympathy and legal protection she got (even though it was more than any other female celebrity could have expected in identical circumstances). As it is...not so much.