Prince of the Jungle or Hero of Salisbury Plain? The amazing double life of William

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The Independent Online

The headline says it all: "Going great guns, Wills of the Jungle". The exclusive photograph in yesterday's Daily Mail of the heir to the throne's son, made up in camouflage gear and posing in the Central American jungle, was the envy of any tabloid newsdesk.

The headline says it all: "Going great guns, Wills of the Jungle". The exclusive photograph in yesterday's Daily Mail of the heir to the throne's son, made up in camouflage gear and posing in the Central American jungle, was the envy of any tabloid newsdesk.

The "remarkable" picture, the Mail told its readers, was taken as he "took part in some of the toughest jungle training" in Belize. "His cheeks may be partially smeared with camouflage paint," it said "but the face is unmistakable". Unfortunately, the venue was not. The photograph had, in fact, been taken on Salisbury Plain more than a year ago.

The Mail picture desk was refusing to comment last night about the photograph, for which it is believed to have paid about £20,000 and which was sold to it by a news agency.

But the Prince of Wales's press office issued a statement confirming the photograph, which also appeared on the newspaper's front page, had distinctly untropical origins. "It is now clear that the photograph ... was not taken in Belize but in England at least a year ago while Prince William was on exercises as part of his membership of the Eton Army Cadet Corps," Price Charles's press office said.

"While pleased that no photographs from his time in Belize have been published, we remain disappointed that a private photograph, taken while William was at school, has been made available in this way to the press by someone William thought he could trust."

St James's Palace said it had not seen the photograph before publication but believed it to be "clearly similar to private photographs which had been taken in Belize with Prince William's consent". It had considered attempting to halt publication of the photograph and consulted the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) but, believing it to have been taken in a "public" place, and taking into account that Prince William was over 18, had felt unable to object.

Lawrence Sear, managing editor of the Daily Mail, said: "The picture of Prince William was obtained from a reputable news agency. It was published in good faith as having been taken in Belize. [We] sought approval from St James's Palace to publish the picture after describing its contents and the circumstances under which it was believed the picture was taken.

"We have learnt subsequently that the picture was taken a year ago on Salisbury Plain and we are happy to set the record straight."

It is the third time this year that pictures of Prince William have caused problems for the press. In June the Prince of Wales complained to the PCC after the News of the World published pictures of his son at Eton. That followed a dispute between The Daily Telegraph and St James's Palace over copyright ownership of pictures commemorating Prince William's 18th birthday.

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