The British royal family on Wednesday warned the UK’s newspapers not to publish nude photographs of Prince Harry cavorting with friends on holiday in Las Vegas.
The photographs, published in the US by celebrity news Web site TMZ.com, showed the third-in-line to the throne naked in a hotel suite.
In one of the two photographs, the 27-year-old is pictured, apparently wearing only a watch and a necklace, covering his genitals with his hands while another person, who also appears to be nude, stands close behind him.
In the other, he is bent over bear-hugging a second person, who also appears to be naked. It is not clear if the person is a man or a woman.
Clarence House confirmed to media on Wednesday that the images were genuine.
“At this time we don’t have a comment,” a spokesman told reporters, adding: “We may do later.”
It is rare for Clarence House to confirm the validity of such images, which raise questions about security surrounding the British royal.
A royal spokesman later confirmed the family had contacted the Press Complaints Commission to request that British newspapers did not print the images, arguing it would be a breach of privacy. The two images were taken at a private suite in the Wynn Resort after a game of strip billiards last weekend, according to TMZ.
Newspapers yesterday adhered to the palace’s request, although The Sun’s front-page carried a mock-up of the infamous photograph with a journalist taking Harry’s role next to the headline “Harry grabs the crown jewels.”
A royal source told the UK’s Press Association news agency that Harry had been “letting off steam before the next phase of his military career.”
Video has also been released from the same trip that purports to show the prince racing US Olympic swimming gold medalist Ryan Lochte in the pool of a nightclub.
Lochte, who was in Las Vegas belatedly celebrating his 28th birthday, told the Daily Mail newspaper that he was “surprised” Harry had challenged him to the race, which the swimming star won.
“He’s a great guy, and it was a huge honor to meet him,” Lochte was quoted as saying.
Harry was in Las Vegas after hosting a charity event in San Diego.
Known for his playboy reputation, the prince has tried to distance himself from that lifestyle.
He caused outrage in 2005 when photographs of him attending a fancy-dress party wearing a swastika armband appeared in the press, and was forced to apologize in 2009 when video footage emerged of him calling an Asian colleague “our little Paki friend.”
The prince has recently presented a more grown-up image and stood in for the queen at the Olympics closing ceremony.