The Sun newspaper has risked legal action by the Royal Family after deciding to go ahead and publish naked photographs of Prince Harry taken recently in a Las Vegas hotel suite, according to Reuters.
The photographs were first published by celebrity gossip website TMZ.com and quickly circulated around the internet and worldwide press.
The photos appear to show Prince Harry naked in a hotel room - in one photo he is seen being gripped from behind by an unidentified female, who is also naked. In another the naked Prince has his arms around a naked female. It is thought the Prince was playing a game of naked billiards with a group of friends.
Breach of privacy?
However publication of the photographs prompted a swift warning from lawyers representing the Royal Family, Harbottle & Lewis. They contacted the UK Press Complaints Commission, asking that a warning be distributed amongst newspapers and websites in the UK that publishing the images would represent a breach of Prince Harry's privacy.
Although not illegal per se, the law firm warned that publication of the images would breach clause three of the Press Complaints Commission's editors' code of practice, which forbids publication of photos taken of an individual in a private place without their permission.
The Sun has ignored the warning however to publish the photos, claiming that doing so is firmly in the public interest as Prince Harry represents Britain to the rest of the world.
The Sun further argued that any privacy which Prince Harry maintained was breached when he allowed photographs of himself to be taken in private, photographs which were then published and circulated widely on the internet. The Sun cited a previous case where the PCC ruled that photographs could be published because they were already effectively in the public domain.
David Dinsmore is the managing editor of the Sun:
"Hundreds of millions of people have seen these pictures over the internet and it seems perverse that they shouldn't be shown in the pages of our newspaper" he said.