A blurred photograph in the German mass-circulation paper Bild yesterday showed a tanned Prince Charles wearing only a folded white dressing-gown draped over his left shoulder.
The paper raves about 45-year-old Charles's body, saying it was 'hunky like a Greek statue'. Paul Martin, the paper's editor, told BBC Radio 1: 'It reminds you of the David of Michelangelo.'
Further photographs, including a nude centre-spread of the Prince, are due to appear in the new issueof the weekly French magazine Paris Match. A source at the magazine, which is available in Britain from tomorrow, said: 'His whole pride and joy is on display. He looks magnifique. You English can be proud of him.'
A spokesman for the Prince was less than impressed. 'We think it is completely unjustifiable for anybody to suffer this sort of intrusion. We will consider whether any action is appropriate.'
The pictures, reportedly on sale for pounds 30,000, were taken through the window of his room at a chateau in Le Barroux, near Avignon, by a French paparazzo using a long lens. The chateau is owned by the mother-in-law of the art dealer Oliver Hoare, the man allegedly pestered by nuisance phone calls made from the Princess of Wales's line.
The intrusion is bound to renew demands for a privacy law. But since the journals involved are published abroad they are not bound by privacy provisions in the British press's code of practice.
The Prince can, however, seek legal redress in the countries where the magazines are published. Two years ago, Paris Match was ordered to pay pounds 84,000 damages for publishing several pages of photographs of the topless Duchess of York kissing and cuddling her friend John Bryan - a fraction of the pounds 1.32m they sought.