Kate Middleton has been spared further embarrassment from topless photos in France. A court ruled today (Sept. 18) that Closer magazine is prohibited from publishing or distributing the photos. The magazine and photographer also face a criminal investigation.

The ruling requires the magazine to turn over all copies of the photos to the royal couple no later than 24 hours from the time of the ruling. Failure to do so could result in a 10,000 euro fine.

While the fine is considered a slap on the wrist, the magazine could be held in contempt of court if it refuses to comply with the order. That could lead to more serious penalties.

Kate Middleton Topless Photos Published

Kate Middleton is caught in a 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 ruling, for the moment, lays to rest the controversy over photos taken of Kate and husband Prince William while they were vacationing at the Chateau D’Aulet, a sprawling 640-acre estate in Provence, France, owned by the Queen’s nephew.

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The ruling will effectively ban other French publications from publishing the photos, barring an appeal that successfully overturns the court ruling. No word yet on whether the magazine will go that route.

The court also authorized a criminal investigation to determine whether the photographer and magazine violated France’s strict privacy law.

A female photographer who was at the scene and also snapped photos of the royal couple sunbathing said Kate and William were clearly visible from a nearby road and other public areas adjacent to the estate. Numerous people could see them, she told London’s Daily Mail. At the time, she saw no security.

The ruling has no effect on Italian magazine Chi, which published a 26-page spread Monday that included 50 photos. The Irish Daily Star also published the topless photos.

Although Ireland is independent of Great Britain, there have been repercussions. The paper’s publisher announced that editor Michael O’Kane has been suspended effective immediately pending an investigation into the publication of the photos, which were taken from Closer.

Some U.S. publications are reportedly interested in the photos, but so far no publications in the UK have published any.