Pictures of a naked Prince Harry cavorting with a nude young woman in a Las Vegas hotel room were published on a US website yesterday
The photos are a potential embarrassment to Harry, the grandson of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and third in line to the throne, and the royal family.
One photo published on the celebrity gossip website TMZ shows Harry, an Apache helicopter pilot in the British army, covering up his genitals with his hands while an apparently naked woman hides behind his back.
The other shows the 27-year-old prince, pictured from behind hugging what appears to be the same naked woman.
The blurred pictures were taken in a VIP suite of a hotel in Las Vegas where the prince was enjoying a private holiday with friends.
According to TMZ, the photos were taken after Harry and his friends went down to the hotel bar and invited some women, who have not been identified, back up to their room for a game of strip pool. "We are not commenting specifically on the photos," a spokesman for the prince said.
But a royal source confirmed it was Harry in the photos.
Harry, the son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, earned a reputation when he was younger as a royal wild child after he admitted in 2002 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, who served in the army in Afghanistan four years ago and has spoken of his desire to return to frontline action, has shed much of his earlier playboy image.
He recently embarked on a highly successful solo royal tour of the Caribbean and Brazil as part of celebrations for the queen's diamond jubilee and stood in for his grandmother at the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games.
The prince appeared on the front pages of British newspapers yesterday - not because of the naked pictures but over reports of a race he had with double gold medal winning US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte in a pool at a Las Vegas resort.
However, the love life of the single prince, whose older brother William got married last year to Kate Middleton, continues to attract great media attention.