By Raphael Satter and Jill Lawless Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s Prince Harry has been caught on camera doing something embarrassing — again.
Celebrity gossip website TMZ on Tuesday posted photos of the 27-year-old royal cavorting nude with an unidentified woman in a VIP suite in Las Vegas. It’s hardly the first time the prince — who allegedly disrobed as part of a game of strip pool — has been filmed misbehaving. The third-in-line to the throne was famously photographed wearing a Nazi uniform for a costume party, and in another photo-gaffe he was seen cupping the breast of a female TV presenter. Some would argue footage in which he was heard to utter a racial slur while teasing a fellow army cadet from Pakistan was more serious.
If the reaction of Britons to Harry’s Las Vegas adventure was anything to go by, the nude photos will do little to tarnish his generally positive, party-prince image. The Associated Press asked an assortment of royal watchers and British subjects about what they thought about the prince’s naked romp.
Did harry do anything wrong?
Jim Conlon, a 60-year-old construction worker: “The answer to that is categorically NO.” Conlon, who was unloading bags of material from a car, seemed genuinely offended by the very question. “I’d be proud of him if he were my son,” he said.
Conlon’s opinion was typical of a country where thousands of streets and pubs are named for the royal family. Polls published earlier this year showed support for the monarchy at an all-time high, perhaps buoyed by the celebrations surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking her 60 years on the throne.
Interviews with Londoners up and down the capital’s Prince of Wales Road yielded few critics of Harry’s antics.
Craig Martin, 38, another construction worker: “He’s the prince. He can have any bird he wants!”
Down the road, caregiver Shirley Ashard laughed at the news of Harry’s naked adventure, dismissing questions about the propriety of running around a plush hotel room in the buff with a boys-will-be-boys shrug.
“I’ve got kids. They do things like that,” the 59-year-old said. “He’s a lad, for God’s sake.”
Will Harry’s romp harm the image of the prince, or the royal family?
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine: Not likely. Seward said Harry’s party-boy image was part of his approachable, normal persona.
“Of course it’s stupid, but it doesn’t make people dislike him — quite the opposite,” she said.
“It shows that he is a guy who gets into trouble and he’s the one people love to love. It could only happen to Harry — but we love him for it.”
She did think, though, that Harry might get a talking-to from Prince Charles. “I would think his father would speak to him,” she said.
Doesn’t the royal family have a history of bad-boy behavior?
Yes, said Anne Sebba, biographer of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee whose affair with King Edward VIII — Harry’s great-great-uncle — led to his abdication in 1936.
That king’s grandfather, Edward VII — who reigned from 1901 to 1910 — had many affairs, parking his carriage outside the houses of his mistresses while he visited.
“The staff would be very discreet,” said Sebba. “People knew; they just didn’t talk about it.”
Edward VIII and Simpson were well known in upper-crust circles for their hedonistic parties — and some visitors wrote their shocked reactions in diaries.
“It didn’t reach the papers,” Sebba said. “It is just in the private diaries. Nobody was taking photographs. Nobody was posting it on the Internet.
“The old system depended on incredible discretion, loyalty and deference — and all that has gone. The royal family has had to make themselves so open and available and this is the downside of the coin.”
Prince Harry’s office confirmed Wednesday that the photos were of the prince but declined to make any further comment.
What about the prince’s privacy?
The blurry, low-resolution photographs appear to have been snapped from inside a hotel suite, and it isn’t clear that the prince was aware that they were being taken.
That could be a violation of the royal’s privacy. It might also explain why Britain’s scandal-hungry tabloids — normally avid consumers of titillating photos — were steering clear of the images.
Ashard, the caregiver, said the only outrage she could muster was against the photographer.
“That’s out of order,” she said. “How would you like it if someone took pictures of you in your hotel room?”
What happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas
LAS VEGAS — What happens in Vegas … doesn’t stay in Vegas. It is a marketing ploy, people. Really.
Oh sure, you’ve seen the commercials, the ones that say anything goes here. Even the straight-laced are seen smoking cheap cigars and playing slots before they’ve left the airport.
But Prince Harry is not alone. Everyone is fair game, especially when cameras are standard equipment on smartphones and Facebook is just a click away.
Note these examples:
— After a September 2010 concert at the Hard Rock’s Wasted Space nightclub, a bathroom attendant noticed Bruno Mars was taking a long time in a stall — accompanied by a little bag of white powder. A security guard confronted him as he left, and Mars ended up getting probation and community service for a cocaine charge — all as his song “Just the Way You Are” climbed the Billboard charts.
— In 2010, a police officer stopped the car Paris Hilton was riding in after noticing a “vapor trail” of marijuana smoke wafting from the windows. Once inside the Wynn resort on the Strip, Hilton reached in her Chanel purse for lip balm but ended up dropping a small bag of cocaine — right in front of the officer. She told authorities it wasn’t hers and she thought it was gum.
— A group of General Services Administration employees got some unwelcome fame when the goofy skits they prepared for a lavish conference in October 2010 ended up on YouTube. A congressional panel wasn’t as amused by one employee’s ditty about never getting audited by the inspector general. Heads rolled when word got out that the $820,000 event included a taxpayer funded clown, mind-reader, and 24 unassembled bicycles for a team-building exercise.
— Britney Spears walked down the aisle in jeans and a baseball cap in 2004. The pop princess ended up waking up in Vegas next to her childhood friend and decided she should trim that whole “till death do us part” thing to 55 hours of wedded bliss.
— And, last, but not least, Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, played a game of strip billiards, only to find that someone leaked blurry photos of the naked royal cozied up to an apparently undressed mystery woman. Prince Harry’s office confirmed Wednesday that the photos were of the prince, but declined to make any further comment.