Franklin Graham has come under fire for issuing a blistering rebuke to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, after it was announced that she and her husband, Prince William, are seeking 1.6 million from a French magazine that published topless photos of Kate in 2012.
On Tuesday, six people went on trial to face charges of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking topless photos of Princess Kate while she was on vacation at a private villa with Prince William five years ago. The photos, taken from several miles away with a telephoto lens, were published in the French magazine Closer.
In a Facebook post shared on Wednesday, Graham, the leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse first said he "feels" for the Royal Family over the inappropriate photos: "We all appreciate our privacy," he said.
However, the evangelist told his 5.6 million Facebook followers that because we "live in a high tech, digital age where it seems there's no privacy", Kate should have known better than to appear topless.
"She is followed by paparazzi from all around the world," he said. "If you don't want topless pictures of yourself taken, it might be a good idea to keep your top on outside."
Billy Graham's son said that the incident is a "good reminder to all of us" that even though it seems people are always watching-more importantly, God is always watching.
"He sees everything we do. He not only sees what we do, He knows our thoughts," he said. "The Bible tells us, 'You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar' (Psalm 139:2). One day will stand before him and all will be revealed."
While a few commenters agreed with the evangelist, most expressed outrage over the Facebook post and accused Graham of "victim shaming" Princess Kate.
"I usually agree with you, Mr. Graham, but on this I must part ways a bit," wrote one commenter. "The princess had been married just a year (I say that because some comment that she was not a princess yet)...this was 2012. They were married in 2011. This was at a private villa on a BALCONY. The paparazzi took the pics from 1/2 a mile away with obviously very strong telephoto lenses. The villa was owned by family. They WERE being private. They WERE married. This was an invasion of their privacy."
Added another, "She was at her private residence, with her husband. I love you Mr. Graham, but I disagree here. They only ones at fault were the photographers. As a Christian woman myself, if I want to sunbathe topless at my secluded house with no one but my husband, I will do so, and it is not ok for anyone to think that just because we are in a digital age I should be restrained instead of the scavengers out there."
Wrote yet another: "I'm am severely upset by your post. This clearly is an example of victim blaming and clearly not an example of Christianity...This post is not only disrespectful to Princess Kate but perpetuates the mentality of blaming women victims."
Meanwhile, in a statement read by William and Kate's French lawyer at the court proceedings in Nanterre, France, William called the alleged invasion of privacy by French paparazzi "particularly shocking" and "all the more painful" given the harassment of his mother by the paparazzi, who had stalked Princess Diana before her tragic crash inside Paris' Pont d'Alma.
William said in his statement that the photographs "reminded us of the harassment that led to the death of my mother, Diana Princess of Wales."
"In September 2012, my wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy... The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy," he said.
ABC News notes that French court fined Closer in 2012 for printing the images and banned it from the distributing the magazine in print or online. Judge Florence Lasserre-Jeannin will announce the verdict in this trial on July 4, the Press Association said.