Could We Please Allow The Former Kate Middleton, Duchess Of Cambridge To Sunbathe Topless In Peace?

A French magazine owned by Silvio Berlusconi has published grainy photos of the former Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing topless in a thong bikini while on holiday in Provence, prompting a lawsuit. Various websites, including Gawker and Egotastic, and newspapers, such as Ireland’s Daily Star, have reproduced the photos, which appear to have been taken by paparazzi staking their villa out from a neighboring property.

Surprisingly, the British tabloids have so far refrained from republishing the voyeur shots according to a story in Saturday’s New York Times. Let’s hope they’ve learned a lesson from the way they harassed Princess Diana. But it’s a shame that William and Kate can’t enjoy even a bit of privacy while on vacation. One of the great joys of travel is the opportunity to reinvent oneself and to do things that you might not do at home. The royals and other celebrities don’t have that luxury but I don’t think many will be shedding tears for them.How many women around the world would gladly trade places with Kate, even if it meant that they’d have to be a bit more careful while sunbathing topless? I’m also a bit surprised that William and Kate wouldn’t be a bit more paranoid knowing how the paparazzi are. But according to the story in the New York Times, the villa they stayed in advertised itself as a very private secluded hideaway.

“The villa complex, built around a 19th-century hunting lodge called the Château d’Autet, is set in 640 acres of woodland and can house up to 17 people at four main properties. Apart from being a vacation retreat for Lord Linley and his family, it has also been rented out for thousands of dollars a week, offering guests a variety of recreational options including a tennis court, a swimming pool and an area to play the French bowling game called boule.”

In any case, they’ll certainly be more guarded moving forward after this incident, which comes on the heels of Prince Harry getting caught with his pants down while on holiday in Vegas. The British press also got scooped on that debacle and CNN called their restrained coverage of the story a “watershed moment for the UK press.” But in the Internet age, it almost doesn’t matter what the print publications do, because there’s always going to be some website that will satisfy the public’s curiosity.

That’s the downside to fame but I wish that everyone had the ability to cut loose while on vacation, because everyone deserves the right to let their hair, or bathing suit top, down now and then.

[Photo by UK Repsome on Flickr]

California hotels rolling out the royal red carpet for William & Kate’s visit

Want to live it up like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? Hotels in California are rolling out “Royal” packages in anticipation of William & Kate’s visit to the state July 8 -10. Here are a few our of our favorites:

Mission Inn & Spa
Book this Riverside Inn’s “Royal Wedding Celebration Package” ($1,449) and enjoy overnight accommodations for two in the Presidential Suite, a champagne, caviar and cupcake amenity, a signature candle, private in-suite dinner service, a coffee table book about the Royal Wedding, his and hers bathrobes, a couples-massage in a private villa, in-suite or spa high tea service for two, and complimentary valet parking.

Maison 140
Want to truly live it up? Reserve the entire hotel in a Royal Celebration. For $50,000, rent the entire 44-room hotel for up to 50 guests. The overnight package includes a champagne welcome, afternoon at the Neil George Salon (including blow dry, scalp massage with hair treatment, style, gift bag and $50 gift certificate), high tea service, cocktail reception, dinner at Petrossian Restaurant on Robertson, turndown service with a special gift, night cap and a continental breakfast the next morning.

[Image via Maison 140]
Paso Robles Inn
Explore the famed castle in the “California Royalty Hearst Castle” package. You’ll enjoy a special day tour of Hearst Castle and a picnic lunch in San Simeon, overnight accommodations, a visit to Piedras Blancas to see Elephant Seals and sightseeing and wine tasting in Cambria. From $315.

Montage Beverly Hills
This always luxe hotel is offering a “Royal Summer Escape” featuring two nights of accommodations in a private residence or suite with personal butler (not quite like a full time coterie of servants, but it will do), tasting menu and wine pairings at the Chef’s Counter at Scarpetta Beverly Hills, 60-minute Couple’s Massage for two at Spa Montage, a Royal Presidential Shave at our full-service men’s barber shop, Gornik & Drucker, for him, a Regal blow out at Kim Vo Salon, for her, afternoon tea for two, and of course, luxury transportation in the Montage Maybach by Mercedes-Benz to and from Los Angeles International Airport. Prices range from $3,750 for a Grand Deluxe Suite to $15,500 for a residence.

Safari West
Make like William & Kate (who got engaged in Africa) with this wild “Safari Nights” package from the Sonoma hotel. The package, starting at $2,000, includes a private sundowner exploration into the “Sonoma Serengeti,” with rhinos and cheetahs, plus a VIP ‘Behind the Scenes’ peek into the workings of Safari West. The package includes dinner, wine and evening port around the fire pit with the owners, Peter and Nancy Lang, a photo with one of our cheetahs (if they slow down long enough for a snapshot), plus a Swedish massage along with wine and chocolate in the privacy of your own tent.

Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
A-listers are used to the royal treatment at this Newport Beach hotel, but the “Royal Treatment” summer package takes luxury to a new level. Live like royalty in one of the hotel’s three-bedroom villas. You’ll enjoy a private four-course dinner by your pool, complimentary treatments spa treatments (two) and a $150 gift card to to Fashion Island.

Harvest Inn
Enjoy wine country in Napa Valley with the “Royal Retreat” package. You’ll enjoy two nights accommodations, a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate truffles, two 60-minute spa treatments, a private four hour wine country tour in a luxury sedan, including an exclusive personal wine tasting tour with winemakers of two wine estates, two monogrammed bathrobes and complimentary wine and cheese tasting on Friday and Saturday evenings in the Inn’s Great Room.

Seychelles idyll for Royal Couple

The British media reported this morning that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge–the two young lovebirds you may know as William and Kate–arrived in the Seychelles earlier today to kick off their long anticipated honeymoon.

After touching down at Seychelles International Airport in Mahé, the Royal Couple boarded a helicopter and took off for a private, unidentified island.

The location of the Royal honeymoon has been a matter of intense speculation in the UK over the last several weeks. Jordan, the Isles of Scilly, and Barbuda have all turned up as potential destinations.

The Seychelles, a cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, are a top upscale destination, with tourist inflows coming mostly from Europe. Surely the Royal Couple’s decision to honeymoon in the country will not damage the Seychelles’ reputation as a playground for the rich.

[Image: Flickr | Olivier Cochard-Labbé]

Royal Wedding watch: parties, packages and more

Unless you’re really lucky, you probably didn’t snag an invite to the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29. But that doesn’t mean you can’t join in the festivities. Check out these great hotels and resorts offering special wedding-themed packages and events.

Live Like Royalty

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
This is, without a doubt, one of the more over-the-top packages we’ve seen recently. Book the hotel’s Royal Wedding Tour ($18,000 for one, $30,000 for two) and you’ll receive special access and hosted tours by first-hand family members and associates of the royal family to Kensington Palace, Chartwell, Spencer House, Althorp and Westminster Abbey, all venues which members of the public have not had access to before. The hotel itself also has a rich history: Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Margaret first learned to dance in the gilded ballroom, Prince Charles and Princess Anne visited the tearooms as children and more recently, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were guests at Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s 80th birthday party. Sir Winston Churchill was even a temporary resident while his London house was being refurbished. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park also boasts the only private Royal Entrance from Hyde Park. Visit our friends over at Luxist for full details.

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
In the heart of the United States’ own “seat of power,” this luxury hotel has partnered with area vendors to create a wedding experience fit for a king and queen. The Royal Wedding experience includes customized diamond jewels for the bride and rare vintage loans for the bridal party, a custom dress from an area bridal shop, personal shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, celebrity stylists, and a “royal watch” consultant. The ceremony will transform the hotel ballroom into Westminster Abbey, Kensington Gardens and Buckingham palace while guests nosh on a custom menu and sip Dom Pérignon Champagne to the tunes of a 17-piece orchestra. Afterwards, the newlyweds will retreat to the hotel’s Royal Suite and receive a box of Dom Perignon Wedding which includes 12 bottles of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2000 in an exquisite white lacquered box with a unique silver label personalized with the bride and groom’s names and the date of their nuptials. The price of this wedding package is available upon request.

The Waldorf=Astoria New York
The acclaimed New York hotel is offering a special one-time-only promotion for a whopping $20,000. Available only for booking through Jennifer Jorgensen, director of luxury sales, the package includes accommodations in The Waldorf=Astoria Royal Suite April 28th -the former residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, plus a soiree for up to 40 guests with a custom British wedding food menu.The May Fair Hotel
Book the hotel’s “Suite and Sapphire” package to enjoy a stay in the hotel’s signature Azure Suite, featuring a private elevator, Fendi furniture and a fireplace, and a sapphire and diamond engagement ring designed by a celebrity jeweler. Depending on the size of the ring, the package ranges from £9,500 for a one-carat ring to £207,500 for an 18 carat ring, the same size as Kate Middleton’s.

Hyatt Regency London The Churchill
Book the hotel’s “Royal Opulence Package” and receive a four night stay for up to six guests in the Royal Suite (one of London’s largest Suites) plus:
* Daimler DS40 and hotel chauffeur available up to eight hours per day
* Butler in the Royal Suite available for up to eight hours per day.
* All meals included will be served in the Royal Suite, with dishes created by the private chef
* Royal Banquet Dinner in the Royal Suite catering to up to ten guests
* Private talk by Royal Biographer on _William and Kate – The Love Story_
* Six tickets to the Royal Opera House’s performance of “_The Tsar’s Bride_” on 29 April
* Historic Royal Palace tours will include the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court, along with a London Blue Badge guide for two days for six guests
* Special Royal amenities by Royal Warrant holders including: Flowers by Moyse Stevens, Bathroom products from Floris and Royal Wedding limited edition truffles from Prestat

Just make sure you’ve got the cash to back it up – the package is £30,000.

Party Like a Prince (or Princess)

The Stafford London by Kempinski
Located just steps from Buckingham Palace and a rumored “hotspot” of the Royal Family themselves, the newly-revamped Stafford London by Kempinski is hosting a special Royal Wedding viewing party on April 29. Tickets are £85 per person and include all food and beverage. Reservations are required.

Augill Castle
Augill Castle is offering a Great British break of two nights from Thursday, April 28 – Saturday, April 30. Guests will be greeted with sherry and home-made biscuits before a four-course dinner or special high tea for kids. Augill Castle’s idyllic 15 acres will set the stage for the festive Garden Party to watch the Royal wedding in style. After, guests will feast on British classics including cucumber sandwiches, scones with fresh strawberries and cream, fairy cakes, English trifle and pitchers of Pimms. Children can enjoy party games in the afternoon before high tea and adults will be kept entertained that night with live music and a majestic banquet. Priced from £725 for two adults.

Dukes Hotel, London
Dukes is the closest hotel in the city to Buckingham Palace, and is situated nearly next door to Clarence House, where William will depart from to get to Westminster Abbey on the big day. The hotel is hosting an Afternoon Champagne Tea in the hotel’s Regal Marlborough Suite, where the wedding will be shown on a large screen for £34 per person.

The Suite Life

Trump International New York
We liked this package so much, we covered it in our Daily Pampering column earlier this year, but it bears repeating. Book this suite package on April 28th and you’ll enjoy a “Royal Brunch” on Friday morning with a special tasting menu created just for the wedding. You’ll also get a 4 PM late checkout, because, after getting up at 5 AM, you’ll want a nap.

The Ritz London
Boasting a prime location near Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, this luxury property has a rich history (The Duke of Windsor dined and danced in The Palm Court, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales awarded the hotel the honor of a Royal Warrant). The Ritz Restaurant will host an extravagant Royal Wedding Brunch between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm. Screens streaming live coverage of the wedding will be displayed throughout the room. Priced at $244 per person, the Royal Wedding Brunch includes a glass of Champagne to toast the happy couple, a commemorative souvenir Menu, and an exclusive limited edition decorative keepsake embroidered with the initials of the Royal couple and their wedding date. Care to stay overnight? For guests checking in on the 28th or 29th of April, the special Monarchy & Matrimony program is priced at $2,375 and includes:

  • Two nights sumptuous accommodation in a Louis XVI inspired room
  • Flowers, fresh fruit and a bottle of Champagne in-room on arrival
  • Royal Wedding Brunch in The Ritz Restaurant, with live coverage of the Royal wedding playing throughout
  • A limited edition commemorative gift
  • English breakfast each morning

Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara
From high teas to royal pampering, the Resort has planned number of events, including special cocktails in the hotel’s Ty Lounge, including the Middletini, made with Hennessy XO, Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire 100 year, Chambord, poma juice and ginger ale. To truly enjoy the “Royal” treatment, book their special 7-hour spa package ($1,350 per person) including a Jasmine Rose Bath Soak and Champagne in a luxurious ocean view treatment suite, a Green Jade Rice Scrub, a Detoxifying Seaweed Wrap, a 50-minute full body massage, spa lunch, 80-minute custom facial and Hand and Foot Paraffin treatment. Guests receive a special spa robe as a memento and limo transport back to their suite or home within a 25-mile radius.

Elite Island Resorts
Traveling to the Caribbean? Elite Island Resorts is offering 30 percent off all-inclusive nightly rates at The Verandah, St. James’s Club and Galley Bay in Antigua; The Palm Island Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and luxury-inclusive spa resort LaSource in Grenada. Guests will gather to watch the royal festivities at all of these participating properties. Traditional English tea, finger sandwiches and scones will also be provided.

‘La Ferme de la Lochere’ Estate, Burgundy
Rent this fabulous French estate from April 30 to May 7 and enjoy a recreation of the wedding meal by Katherine Frelon, who has cooked for the royal family. The week-long package at the 400 year old property features Royal High Tea, champagne in a hot air balloon, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, a private wine tasting and several hands-on cooking experiences with a seasoned Michelin chef. Prices start at €1,895 ($2,561)* per person. E-mail for reservations.

Fairmont St. Andrews
Celebrate the Royal Wedding at the location where William and Kate were rumored to have “caught eyes” – the five-star resort hosted the 2001 fashion show where Ms. Middleton modeled a sheer black lace dress and Prince William sat front row. A two-night package is available which includes dinner in the Squire restaurant –the room where the fashion show took place –and a 60-minute treatment in the spa of which Prince William was a member, as well as a live broadcast of the wedding itself. There is also a complimentary shuttle bus service to St Andrews so guests can visit and explore the ancient town and university where the couple both lived and studied. The two-night package costs £229 per person and is valid between April 29 and May 1.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
“The Royal Engagement” package includes overnight accommodations in a city-view room, a delightful Afternoon Tea served in your guest room, tickets to the Sarasota Polo match (a favorite pastime of HRH Prince William), a bottle of Ritz Champagne upon arrival, Rose Petals and a proper pillow for the “prince” to fall to one knee to propose. The cost begins at $449 per couple, and add-on services and upgrades can be arranged by the hotel’s Romance Concierge.

Ellenborough Park
Located in the Costwolds countryside, the newly-opened Ellenborough Park offers all of the traditional “English” amenities you’d expect with a Royal Wedding package. Enjoy a welcome bottle of champagne, signature Royal Cocktail in the hotel bar, and a wide-screen TV broadcasting the wedding live. That evening, enjoy a romantic à la carte meal in the hotel’s dining room, as well as a full English breakfast each morning. The three-day package starts at $1,583 for two and includes optional suite upgrades for additional charges.

The Chester Grosvenor and Spa
Owned by the Duke of Westminster (and hosted Prince Edward of Wales and the Earl of Chester in 1869) is offering a This Royal Wedding Celebration package that includes accommodation in one of the hotel’s 12 luxurious suites, including one called the ‘Prince William Suite’; breakfast each morning in La Brasserie; a romantic eight-course tasting menu dinner in Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’ one evening; a special Royal Wedding indulgent afternoon tea served with champagne; and entrance to Chester’s 2,000-year-old cathedral where society weddings with Royal guests such as the Queen and Princes William and Harry have taken place. The Royal Wedding Celebration package costs £762.50 per person, based on double occupancy and is available Thursday, April 28th and Friday, April 29.

Four Seasons Hotel Boston
In addition to showing the royal wedding on the big screen, hotel’s Bristol Lounge will host the Royal Tweet Trivia on April 29th. Twitter followers (the hotel is @FSBoston) are welcome to join in the fun 5:45-7am ET, royal questions will be tweeted out to hashtag #royalBL every five minutes. The first person to tweet back the most correct answers first will win a Princess Katherine-worthy spa treatment at Exhale Day Spa. And, those joining us in The Bristol Lounge for breakfast will also have a chance to win an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s luxury suites.

Glamis Castle
To celebrate the royal wedding, a special Historic Wedding Exhibition will be put on show in the castle’s Coach House Exhibition Room. On display will be articles of Marriage between the 15th Century to present day, and will include:

  • The official wedding program and menu from the Queen Mother and King George’s wedding in 1923.
  • Photographs from the Strathmore family weddings and in particular the Queen Mother’s siblings.
  • Dance cards from various family weddings
  • Marriage Contracts from 15th Century onwards.

Visitors to the castle on the 29th April will be able to watch the marriage ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton as it happens on large television screens strategically placed throughout the castle, shop and restaurant.

Prince William and Kate Middleton: Royal Wedding build-up starts in Wales

Prince William and Kate Middleton made their first official public appearance together today, a milestone in the lead-up to the Royal Wedding on April 29.

The couple visited Trearddur Bay on the island of Anglesey in Wales to dedicate a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat. The lifeboat, it turns out, is the most technologically advanced inshore rescue boat that the RNLI produces.

A crowd of hundreds of excited royals watchers and multiple camera crews saw the couple arrive and perform their duties. Following the lifeboat dedication, William spoke briefly in Welsh. Kate christened the boat and impressed observers by singing the Welsh national anthem.

Though Anglesey is already a popular tourist spot, its profile will surely rise in the near future. The couple currently live on the island and will continue to do so while the prince remains stationed at RAF Valley as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

Royals chasers might want to head quickly to Scotland, where the couple will make another official appearance on Friday. William and Kate will launch the celebration of the 600th Anniversary of their collective alma mater, the University of St. Andrews.

Excited about the Royal Wedding? It’s cool. We’re freaking out, too! Check out Gadling’s archive of Royal Wedding stories.

[Image: robertpaulyoung | Flickr]