THE British royal family has 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.
In the pictures, the 27-year-old is seen wearing nothing but a watch and a distinctive necklace as he embraces a naked young woman 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 which costs up to £5 000 a night, would be a breach of the prince’s privacy.
“Prince Harry put the crown jewels on display in Vegas this weekend,” celebrity website TMZ said.
According to TMZ, Harry and his friends had invited women from the hotel bar up to their VIP suite, where they played a strip game at a pool table. It did not identify the women.
The prince, a British army Apache helicopter pilot, has been on a private holiday with friends in Las Vegas after completing his final pilot’s training ahead of a future deployment.
Military codes of conduct warn officers that they 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”.
Harry, son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his late ex-wife Princess Diana, earned a reputation when he was younger as a royal wild child after he admitted in 2002 to dabbling in marijuana and under-age drinking.
Three years later he made headlines when he wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party.
But in recent years Harry has shed much of that image. He served in the army in Afghanistan four years ago and has spoken of his desire to return to frontline action.
Earlier this month he was watched by hundreds of millions around the globe standing in for the queen while the national anthem was sung at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.
He has been at the forefront of a rebranding of the British monarchy which has cast senior royals as modern and relevant, a far cry from the perception of a hopelessly out-of-touch institution following the 1997 death of Diana.