If an English princess suffered a French affront back in the days of knights and chivalry, a war would surely ensue. But as it is, Buckingham Palace is evoking the name of, not Kate, but the late Princess Diana, to sue the magazine that published topless photos of the Duchess.

All of Britain was up in arms over photos of topless Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton published by Closer, a French gossip magazine.

Both the Duchess and her husband Prince William were said to be outraged and saddened by the affront and the palace called the invasion of privacy “grotesque.” Not one British publication dared print the photos, although they devoted copious coverage to the story.

Kate Middleton Topless Photos Published

Kate Middleton is caught in another royal uproar over topless photos of her published in France. They follow publication of nude photos of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas. Click the photo to see Kate topless.

The point of the suit seems questionable, now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But the palace wants to make sure no other photos are published and send a message to paparazzi. Raising the specter of Princess Diana, however, added another grotesque element to the story.

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Photographers were giving chase in August 1997 when Diana’s driver lost control of her car and slammed into a bridge abutment, ironically on a Paris street. She died at the scene, along with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed and the driver Henri Paul.

Diana hated the paparazzi, but was also skilled at using them and was often accused of manipulating the media to get attention for her and her causes. William was 15 at the time.

The photos of Kate and William were taken from a public road skirting the sprawling 640-acre estate, about a half mile from Chateau D’Aulet owned by Lord Linley, the Queen’s nephew, according to London’s Daily Mail. William and Kate were relaxing by the pool when Kate slipped off her bikini top to get some sun.

Apparently the royals are more interested in going after the photographer rather than the publication. Whether the magazine will give up his name remains to be seen. The French have one of the strictest privacy laws in the world.

Meanwhile, Kate and William continue their trip overseas representing the Queen for celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee.

The magazine reportedly has removed the photos from its Web site. But Closer editor-in-chief Laurence Pieau was unapologetic about the photos and said it had others, even more lurid, that it is considering publishing. Perhaps, they’ll become a bargaining chip.