The publication of topless photos of Prince William’s wife, Kate, has reunited the same players whose clash ended with the untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a Parisian car crash.

William, who has long harbored a grudge against the paparazzi who chased Diana in the days and hours leading up to her 1997 death, was clearly infuriated. The royal couple hit back with an immediate lawsuit against the popular French gossip magazine Closer, which is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mondadori publishing empire.

The blurry photos, called a “grotesque” abuse of privacy by royal officials, show Kate — the Duchess of Cambridge — wearing only a skimpy bikini bottom. They are the first to show Britain’s likely future queen with her bosom exposed.

St. James’s Palace officials sharply criticized the magazine moments after the photos hit French newsstands, comparing the intrusion on the young couple’s privacy to the tragic paparazzi pursuit of Diana, which many believe was a contributing factor in her untimely death on Aug. 31, 1997.

The parallels between the past and the present were eerie. Diana was hounded by paparazzi who took telephoto shots of her vacationing on a yacht with her boyfriend and tailed them relentlessly in Paris.

Earlier this month, a photographer with a similar long lens captured Kate and William relaxing at a private estate in Provence, near the French Riviera.

Instead of challenging the authenticity of the blurry photos, palace officials said they appear genuine — and should never have been taken, much less published.

“The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so,” said the St. James’s Palace official.

The British media all shied away from using the photos. That restraint came even though Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid is famed for its daily “Page 3” topless shots.

The photos, which were not available on English newsstands, appeared to unite many Britons behind their royal family.

“I think it’s quite outrageous,” said Alice Mason, 24, from London. “It’s not in the public interest to see this.”

Rush rues blabbing about ‘King’s Speech’ script

NEW YORK – Geoffrey Rush – who played speech therapist Lionel Logue in the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech” — has repeatedly said he first found the script left in brown paper wrapping on his Australia home’s doorstep. Now, he says, he wishes he had kept that story to himself.

Rush says other aspiring filmmakers have followed suit, leaving all manner of projects at his front door in Melbourne since the movie first came out in 2010. As he puts it: “The brown paper package phenomenon continues.”

In a recent interview promoting his film “Eye of the Storm,” the actor asked that prospective Oscar-winners route submissions through his agent.

Gaga bottled up? For once, it makes scent

NEW YORK – Lady Gaga launched her debut perfume while being inside a giant-sized perfume bottle.

The avant garde pop star was in a large bottle — a replica of her “Fame” fragrance — appearing in the transparent glass where attendees took photos and watched the singer get a tattoo on her neck.

The entertainer entered the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on New York’s Upper East Side on Thursday night on top of a convertible. She posed for pictures and interacted with some fans.

Inside, she lay in the bottle in a sparkly top, black skirt and red wig. Then she took off some clothing and a wig — now appearing in lingerie, including a thong — and began receiving a tattoo on the back of her neck.

Celebrity attendees included Yoko Ono, Paris Hilton, Jason Wu and Lindsay Lohan, who arrived late.

– From news service reports