In what was obviously a private moment at a private home between a private couple, (are we catching the drift here?) Kate Middleton decided to sunbath topless while vacationing in France. She wasn’t doing anything scandalous. She was lying around on a balcony with her husband Prince William. She did put suntan lotion on her husband, which I guess can be considered scandalous when done by cabana boys for married women. Unfortunately, paparazzi in France spied on the royal couple, then sold the pictures to the French magazine Closer.

That’s right, with just a few seconds of Googling, you could see Kate Middleton’s breasts. I’m not going to link to the pictures or the magazine that published them, because I think it’s an incredibly icky invasion of privacy.

The royal family has reportedly said that they are “saddened” by the publication of the photos. If it were me, that would be quite an understatement. But even as a bystander, as just someone who happened to read about the news first thing this morning, I’m a little saddened too.

First of all, invading someone else’s privacy sucks. Stalking a couple when they are trying to spend time alone, a couple who spends an insane about of time in the public eye already, should be illegal in some way. I’ve sunbathed topless before my friends, when I was alone at my parents house and hidden behind a six-foot privacy fence. I can guarantee you that if anyone took pictures of me while I was swimming, I would have felt violated and upset. I cannot imagine what Duchess Catherine is going through right now.

But even more than the creepy photographer hiding in the bushes, I’m saddened that a magazine would choose to publish such pictures. Kate Middleton is a real-life princess in so many little girls’ fantasies. She’s a role model. She’s someone they look up to. And from the way she dresses and behaves herself, I feel like being a role model is probably really important to her.

Now, her reputation is being tarnished and she’s being made to feel embarrassed about what? About taking her top off during a private moment with her husband? Closer is throwing around tacky captions for their five-page spread like, “People always say she doesn’t need to dress up to look good. Well… Kate is proving this,” and ““The last time we saw Kate and William on a balcony it was for their wedding. But they had more clothes on.” They’re comparing her actions to Prince Harry‘s wild time in Vegas playing and losing strip billiards. Kate Middleton wasn’t doing anything scandalous, and yet they’re shaming her just the same.

As a mom, I don’t want my daughter to ever see these photos or know they exist. It has nothing to do with worrying about my daughter seeing someone’s breasts. It’s because I don’t want her to see a woman shamed in the public eye for daring to take her top off when she thought she was sharing a private moment with her husband. I don’t want my daughter to know how quick the world is to exploit and disgrace a woman for any innocent gesture they can manipulate.

Kate Middleton is a role model, and she’ll continue to be a wonderful one. I’m sad to see her go through something like this.

(Photo: waynehowes / Shutterstock.com)

[UPDATE: The royal couple sued the French magazine over the publication of these photos. Click here to find out the verdict.]