The Royal family moved to block the publication of photographs depicting Prince Harry cavorting naked in a Las Vegas hotel room while playing strip billiards, on Wednesday night.
A St James’ Palace spokesman confirmed that it had contacted the Press Complaints Commission about the images, which were published on a US celebrity website and widely circulated online.
The two pictures, taken on a mobile phone in a hotel suite, were taken by a fellow reveller, and sold it for an estimated 10,000 pounds.
In the pictures, the 27-year-old Royal is seen wearing nothing but a watch and a distinctive necklace as he embraced a naked young woman who clutching a pool cue during a game of "strip billiards".
According to the palace, publication of the images, taken in a high rollers suite at the Wynn and Encore hotel complex costing up to 5,000 pounds a night, would be a breach of the prince’s privacy.
The spokesman declined to say whether or not the prince, who was on a private holiday with friends, paid for the suite himself or accepted the hotel’s hospitality, the Telegraph reported.
Check out the TMZ video of the exposé
The holiday had raised serious questions about the Prince Harry’s judgment and ability to represent the Queen as a senior royal statesman.
It is understood that his protection officers were present in the hotel suite during Friday night’s party but the incident fuelled debate about whether or not they should be expected to step in unless his life is at risk.
The prince is expected to receive a dressing down from the military when he returns to his Army base in Wattisham in Suffolk within the coming days.
Military codes of conduct warn officers that the must maintain high standards of professionalism “both on and off operations” and experts said he would likely be censured.
According to a former instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Prince is most likely to face an “interview without coffee” once he returns.
What happens in Vegas ... doesn't stay in Vegas. It is a marketing ploy, people. Really.
Oh sure, you've seen the commercials, the ones that say anything goes here. Even the straight-laced are seen smoking cheap cigars and playing slots before they've left the airport.
But Prince Harry is not alone. Everyone is fair game, especially when cameras are standard equipment on smartphones and Facebook is just a click away. NOTE THESE EXAMPLES
HARRY BUZZES ON TWITTER
Twitter users have been enjoying pictures of Britain's Prince Harry enjoying himself on holiday.
British Royal Prince Harry was once again in the news for less than regal reasons on Wednesday after grainy photos emerged of him naked at a Vegas hotel party.
The images became viral after celebrity gossip site TMZ obtained photos of the potential king naked playing a game of strip billiards with friends on Friday night.
'SOBER' PRINCE HARRY
Prince Harry has worked hard to get rid of his playboy image of his early twenties. But just as he was beginning to appear convincing, his deeds got 'exposed'.
"In March, he completed his first royal solo tour overseas for the Diamond jubilee visiting Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil. In May, he travelled to Washington DC to accept a humanitarian award from Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, for his work honouring wounded servicemen and women," reported The Guardian Express.
"The Prince, a Captain in the Army Air Corps, is an Apache helicopter pilot and has made clear he wishes to serve in Afghanistan. He is a patron of ten charities," reported the newspaper.
HARRY & CONTROVERSIES
At the age of 17, he was found smoking cannabis and partaking in under-age drinking with his friends. The allegations were made by News of the World newspaper, which also reported his father Prince Charles had taken Harry to a drug rehabilitation clinic to alert him to the dangers of drug abuse.
In 2005, he was photographed at Highgrove House at a colonial and native themed costume party wearing a Nazi German Afrika Korps uniform with a swastika armband. He later issued a public statement apologising for his behaviour.
In January 2009, the British tabloid News of the World revealed a video made by Harry three years ago, in which he referred to a Pakistani fellow officer cadet as "our little Paki friend" and later called a soldier wearing a cloth on his head as a "raghead." Clarence House immediately issued an apology from Harry, who stated that no malice was intended in his remarks.
In 2010, Prince Harry was accused of animal cruelty after his horse suffered a bloody injury during a polo match. He was photographed riding a pony that appeared to have been stabbed in the flank by his spurs.
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(With inputs from ANI, AP, AFP)