Is the printing of photos of a pregnant Kate Middleton that big a deal?
An Italian magazine has defended publishing pictures of a pregnant bikini-clad Kate Middleton, saying she was on a public beach and in full view.
The gossip magazine Chi, owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has caused a storm by being the first to publish the photos, reportedly taken by another tourist, of Middleton and Prince William on a beach in the Caribbean.
St James's Palace has expressed its disappointment, saying the photos breach the royal couple's right to privacy.
Several other magazines around the world have also been paying handsomely for the rights to the images, with France's Paris Match, America's Star and Australia's Woman's Day magazines paying what's believed to be a combined NZ$1m for the rights to publish.
British media outlets have restrained themselves, honouring a "gentleman's agreement" with the royal family not to invade their privacy.
However, Chi editor Alfonso Signorini said ''it is not possible to talk about a breach of privacy when public personalities are photographed in a public, open place such as (a) beach, attended by bathers''.
The magazine's six-page insert headlined ''Kate & William - Honeymoon for three'' is not the first time Chi has earned the ire of the British royals. In September it published topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge.
The latest images show the duchess walking on a beach on the island of Mustique with a visible ''baby bump''.
''The reportage portrays a couple in love in a happy moment as they walk on the seashore...Where is the scandal?,'' Signorini said.
In one picture Kate is seen pulling up her hair as she walks on a Mustique beach, an island favoured by the British royals for its secluded, palm-fringed shores and a favourite of the Queen Elizabeth's late sister Princess Margaret.
''A rounded belly can now be seen and the princess has a softer silhouette compared to how she was during their honeymoon in the Seychelles in 2011,'' one of the captions read.
Another shot showed Kate walking with her arm on William's shoulder, second in line to the British throne. He is wearing thigh-length shorts in matching blue.
''After initial problems, the pregnancy is now proceeding serenely,'' the magazine writes.
Signorini did not provide details about the source of the pictures but said they were bought from an international agency.
Britain's Daily Mail cited media reports that the pictures might have been taken by a holiday maker on a public beach or from a boat using a long-lens camera.