Desmond, co-owner of Ireland's biggest-selling newspaper, expressed fury at the decision to publish the now infamous pictures of Kate Middleton sunbathing while on holiday in France with Prince William.
As well as coming under fire from its joint owners, the Irish Daily Star was attacked by the royal family.
Editions of the paper, part of the British-owned media group Northern and Shell, hit news-stands in Ireland yesterday as the Duchess and her husband toured Borneo as part of their Jubilee tour of the far east.
Since the wedding of Kate and William in April 2011 the pair have become global superstars, appearing on the cover of countless magazines around the world in a way not matched since the heyday of Prince William's late mother Diana. The excitement around the couple has created a frenetic mood among paparazzi and gossip magazines for images of the couple, leading to last week's decision by French magazine Closer to publish the topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate and William are now set to sue the publishers of Closer.
Following publication of the photos, Northern and Shell said it had no editorial control over the Irish Daily Star.
Desmond later said: "I am very angry at the decision to publish these photographs and am taking immediate steps to close down the joint venture. The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern and Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms."
Northern and Shell said they were not given advance notice of the decision to publish and were consulting their lawyers "as a matter of urgency over what we believe to be a serious breach of their contract".
Northern and Shell roundly denounced the publication of the photographs and said the company "very much regret the distress it has caused". The Dublin-based Irish Daily Star is a joint venture between Northern and Shell – publisher of the UK Daily Star owned by Richard Desmond – and Ireland's Independent News and Media. Northern and Shell also owns Channel 5, The Daily Express and the magazines New, OK! and Star.
Independent News and Media also said it had no prior knowledge of the pictures' publication.
The media group moved quickly to criticise its own paper after St James's Palace reacted with fury to the publication. A palace spokesman said of the publication in Ireland that there could be "no motivation for this action other than greed".
Mimi Turner, Northern and Shell's communications director, 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."
However, Editor Mike O'Kane told the BBC he had done his readers "a service" adding "everyone wants to know what's going on".
He said: "We published what has been published in France and everybody here in Ireland wants to know what all this kerfuffle is about.
"Kate Middleton is just another of a fantastic line of celebrities, and people are interested in their lives." He added: "The duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga. She's not the future queen of Ireland, so really the only place this is causing fury seems to be in the UK."
O'Kane went on: "Kate Middleton knows she's married into the royal family. She's one of the most photographed women in the world and she decides to partially disrobe on a balcony where she can be partially seen from a public road. Of course people are going to be interested in this. I really did this as a service for our readers."
O'Kane expressed surprise that publishing the topless photographs had caused such a furore and was blunt about his desire to sell papers.
He added: "I'm a little taken aback by the reaction in the UK. The UK has given us a parliamentary democracy, it has given the world an absolutely outstanding free press over the past 100 years that has allowed us to topple governments, a free press that has allowed us investigation.
"I think the UK press have got themselves in a total muddle here. What we try to do is sell as many papers as we can every day, so I wouldn't apologise for that."
The Italian gossip magazine Chi is also believed to be preparing to follow Closer and the Irish Daily Star in printing photographs of the topless Duchess.
Chi is understood to be planning a 26-page photo special of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on holiday in the south of France, to run in an edition next week.
Both Chi and the French edition of Closer are published by the Mondadori media group, which is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Chi's editor Alfonso Signorini said: "The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical. This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love."
A royal spokeswoman would not comment on potential legal action concerning the proposed publication of the photos in Italy "save to say that all proportionate responses will be kept under review".
ROYALS v THE PRESS
THE paparazzi pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless are the latest in a long line of intrusions by the press into her life, and another instalment in a long-running battle between the press and the royals.
Although restraint has been shown in recent years, during Kate Middleton's courtship with Prince William it was a very different story.
For two years, between 2005 and 2007, she was accompanied by photographers wherever she went. Things came to a head on her 25th birthday, amid speculation Prince William would pick that day to propose to her, when she was faced with a large press pack outside her London home.
The incident led Prince William to say he wanted "more than anything" for the press to stop "harassing" his then-girlfriend, although no legal action was taken.
Mindful that the scenes were reminiscent of those involving William's mother Princess Diana, who was also photographed leaving her house when she was dating Prince Charles, News International said it would stop using paparazzi images of Kate, with the self-imposed ban covering The Sun, the News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times and free newspaper thelondonpaper.
Some months later the Press Complaints Commission was forced to act when pictures of Kate walking to her car were published in the Daily Mirror. The images were deemed to be harassment and the watchdog ruled there was no public interest in them being published.
An apology from the newspaper's editor, and News International's ban, reflected the continued unease of the press over its use of paparazzi pictures of the royals in the wake of the death of Princess Diana.
Paparazzi were following Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed when their car crashed in Paris in August 1997, killing them both. Photographers took pictures of her as she lay dying, images that have never been published in the UK.
The couple had left their hotel by a back exit but were spotted by paparazzi, and Diana, who was 36, and Fayed, 41, died after the car in which they were travelling crashed into the central reservation of the Alma underpass.
In 2008, an inquest jury concluded Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed as a direct result of drunk chauffeur Henri Paul's driving and the actions of photographers hounding their car. Both Paul, who also died, and the photographers were blamed for the crash because of their gross negligence.
But although 10 photographers were arrested after the crash, none faced legal proceedings in France, as a police investigation cleared them of criminal responsibility.
Aside from the pursuit of Diana, other members of the royal family have fallen foul of the long lenses of the paparazzi.
In similar circumstances to Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles was once photographed standing in the nude while on holiday at a friend's chateau near Avignon in France. The photos were published in Paris Match and German paper Bild in 1994.
Most notoriously of all, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who was married to Prince Andrew at the time, was also pictured sunbathing topless, having her toes sucked by her Texan financial adviser John Bryan.
She sued the French magazine Paris Match over the snaps and was paid £84,000 in compensation a year later, but the episode spelled the end for her marriage.