Paparazzi got pictures of Kate Middleton topless, French magazine Closer published them, and now Internet searches for the pictures have soared past 50 million a day.

Back in April of last year, CNN wrote a story wondering whether the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton would break the Internet. It warned that the event would shut down major web sites, stall wireless networks, and grind gossip to a halt. During the peak traffic that month, Google Trends reported that searches for Kate Middleton had approached 75 million a day.

So do we need to worry that Kate’s topless photos could now take down the Net? Probably not, although searches on her photos are still growing. Traffic to Closer’s web site grew 1,600 percent last Friday but then dropped off after the magazine removed the salacious photos.

Still, the story grew as multiple other publications published pictures of the topless Middleton. Even the Washington Post weighed in with a post about how topless photos were a pathetic way to sell papers. Some noted that, while on a trip to the Solomon Islands, the duchess was greeted by topless native women who presented the royal couple with garlands.

Oddly enough, Google Trends shows that the No. 1 city for searches on the phrase “Kate Middleton topless” is Lambeth, in the United Kingdom, followed by Kensington, Glasgow, Leeds, Dublin, and London. All the top 10 cities are in the United Kingdom. It seems the British cannot get enough of topless Kate, in part because privacy laws in Britain prohibit the publication of the pictures.

We’ll see how long this media frenzy lasts. In 2011, Rebecca Black topped the official Google Zeitgeist of 2011 thanks to her notoriously bad music video “Friday.” We’ll see if Kate makes it that far.

[Photo credit: Tom Soper Photography, Flickr]