- (Photo: REUTERS/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool)
A U.S. website recently published photographs of Kate Middleton's bare baby bump just one day after the invasive photos first appeared in controversial Italian magazine CHI.
While a number of popular news websites opted to black-out the images out of respect, HollywoodLife.com gave readers a clear view of CHI's front cover. The Duchess of Cambridge, who is approximately 16 weeks along in her pregnancy, is seen wearing a two piece bikini while strolling a beach with her husband Prince William.
The royal couple was recently on vacation on the private Caribbean island of Mustique and they are said to be disappointed after learning that the photos were taken during their trip. The scandal comes just five months after they were forced to take legal action after a French magazine published nude photographs of Middleton, 31.
"We are disappointed that photographs of the Duke and Duchess on a private holiday look likely to be published overseas," a St James' Palace spokesman said in a statement obtained by The Sun UK. "This is a clear breach of the couple's right to privacy."
CHI magazine, which is notorious for publishing invasive photos of the royal family, reportedly paid in excess of $46,000 for the images, according to The Sun. While it is still unclear who exactly took the photos, experts allegedly believe that they were taken from a boat using a long-lens camera.
British media outlets refused to publish the photos and critics believe that this decision was likely influenced by a 2012 court injunction banning the U.K. press from publishing nude photos of Middleton taken during a September vacation in France. However, on Wednesday, it was revealed that three other countries intend on publishing the photos.
Tabloids in Australia, France and Germany will reportedly run the photos which allegedly feature Middleton's younger sister Pippa. Australian magazine "Woman's Day" recently assured critics that readers will "love" the photos.
"This is not a hard decision about these photos. Kate's on a public beach, there are other holiday-makers there and she looks fabulous," the magazine's Editor Fiona Connolly told the Channel 9 network.
"Look, I think the British are very sensitive about this. As Australians, we see this every day. We see pregnant women in bikinis on the beach - and a public one at that - so we are a lot less sensitive here in Australia," she continued.
Middleton and Prince William, 30, confirmed the pregnancy in December and the Duchess is said to be due in July.