Richard Desmond, chairman of Northern and Shell, the owners of the Irish Daily Star which published topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge has said he is "taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture."

The Duke and Duchess put on a brave face while visiting a rainforest in Borneo, but closer to home St James's Palace reacted with fury after the paper published the photographs taken of the couple on holiday at Chateau d'Autet, near Aix-en-Provence.

The Palace condemned the decision to publish the images, originally featured in the French magazine Closer, as motivated by greed.

And Northern and Shell, the newspaper's owners, also hit out at the decision to publish as a "grotesque invasion" of privacy and expressed its regret over any distress caused.

Mimi Turner, Northern and Shell's communications director, said the company had no editorial control over the paper, nor was it notified about the decision. She said: "We abhor the decision of the Irish Daily Star to publish these intrusive pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which we, like St James's Palace, believe to be a grotesque invasion of their privacy."

She added: "Northern and Shell is profoundly dismayed at the decision made by Irish Daily Star, which would never have been made by any of the newspapers or magazines under our editorial control. We consider all aspects of privacy very carefully, and would never condone this action.

"When the recent pictures of Prince Harry were made available to UK newspapers, even though that was a very different and more public situation, we felt that there was no public interest in publishing those images. This is of course a far more distressing situation and while it has nothing to do with the Daily Star UK or any of Northern and Shell's own newspapers, we very much regret the distress it has caused."

The media group distanced itself from the decision to publish after the newspaper's editor, Michael O'Kane, said the Duchess was no different from Rihanna or Lady Gaga, and acknowledged he wanted to sell more newspapers.

St James's Palace has already said the couple will sue the publishers of Closer, which is run by a different company from the British version of Closer magazine. It remains to be seen whether the action will dissuade the Italian gossip magazine Chi from its reported intention to publish a 26-page photo special of the Duke and Duchess sunbathing in the south of France, next week.

A Palace spokeswoman said a review was under way of further action that might be taken against more media publishing the photos. She said: "We will not be commenting on potential legal action concerning the alleged intended publication of the photos in Italy save to say that all proportionate responses will be kept under review. Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were enjoying time alone together in the privacy of a relative's home."