St James's Palace yesterday asked British media organisations not to publish pictures of a naked Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas, despite the images being available online.
Royal aides confirmed the authenticity of the photographs, which depict the third-in-line to the throne standing in front of a topless woman, cupping his genitals with his hands. Another picture shows the Prince "bear-hugging" a naked woman from behind.
The pictures, initially published by tmz.com, were taken by a fellow reveller while Harry was reportedly playing "strip billiards" in his VIP suite.
The reluctance of UK tabloids to publish the images was attributed to the inquiry by Lord Leveson into press practices following the phone-hacking scandal.
While St James's Palace refused to comment on the pictures, aides informed newspaper editors that the photos were shot in circumstances where Prince Harry "had a reasonable expectation of privacy". Publication would constitute an "unjustified intrusion" into Harry's privacy, in breach of the Press Complaints Commission Editors' Code of Practice, the Palace argued.