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Tabloid slammed for cheeky photo of visiting duchess

Royal visit aftermath

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TORONTO -- A photograph in Saturday's Toronto Sun, capturing the precise moment a gust of wind lifted the Duchess of Cambridge's dress, is causing a stir online.

The picture, taken on Thursday but only now coming to light, shows a flash of flesh as the hemline of Kate's yellow skirt gets tossed about in windy conditions shortly after the royal couple's arrival in Calgary.

Other media outlets -- particularly those in the U.K., where they track every move of the Royal Family -- wrote stories and blog entries about the so-called "wardrobe malfunction," but seemed to have published tamer pictures.

When asked why the paper ran the photograph, Toronto Sun editor-in-chief James Wallace said the picture was "compelling and newsworthy."

"We promised our readers news with edge and attitude they don't get elsewhere, and that's what we do every day," he wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.

Several people took to Twitter to express their disdain at the Sun's decision to run its photograph, which appeared in weekend editions of the tabloid, and also online.

One woman called the decision "wholly classless" while another berated the Sun for "very bad taste."

The Canadian Press opted not to distribute a similar photograph.

"We chose not to run the photo because it served no news purpose and its sole intent would be to embarrass the Duchess of Cambridge," said pictures editor Graeme Roy.

"We need to be above that level as journalists. It was totally possible to use photos that showed that the Duchess' dress was being blown about without stooping to that level."

Susan Kelley, who runs the blog, agreed.

The Okemos, Mich., resident made note of Kate's battle with the wind as she described the silk crepe Jenny Packham creation on her blog, but stayed well away from any up-skirt photographs.

"I think people who are fond of Kate, or Kate supporters, are very much outraged," she said. "I didn't think you needed to run that picture; it only serves to titillate."

Kelley added that the photograph published in the Toronto Sun might be the first blown-up skirt picture published of Prince William's wife.

The tabloid's decision to run the photograph on Saturday, rather than while the royals were still in the country, also raised some eyebrows.

The article accompanying the picture quoted the photographer saying he didn't realize what he had captured until after he filed his initial snaps and went back to his images again.

That explanation didn't sit well with some media observers.

"To some degree it's kind of cowardly that they're running it now," said Janice Neil, a journalism professor at Ryerson University.

"If they had run it yesterday then they would have probably faced some sort of wrath."

The media guide put together for the nearly 1,400 journalists who covered the royal Canadian visit laid out strict rules for photographers.

"The Royal Couple must not be embarrassed or inconvenienced by photographers, including official photographers," the guide states.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2011 A5

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