London. Brace yourself, Harry.
A prominent British public relations guru said Friday he’d been approached by two women who claimed to have more material on Prince Harry, raising the possibility that the world may soon be seeing more compromising images of the British royal.
Earlier this week, celebrity gossip website TMZ published photos of Harry romping in the nude during a party at his Las Vegas hotel suite. Many Britons have laughed off the 27-year-old prince’s hijinks, but questions have been raised about his publicly-funded security detail.
In a telephone interview, publicist Max Clifford said he had been called by two American women who claim they were in the prince’s hotel room in the US last week. Clifford, a savvy operator famous for negotiating kiss-and-tell interviews, said the women “said they had lots of interesting things: pictures, video, that kind of thing.”
He said he turned them down.
“I couldn’t justify this,” he said. “It’s an infringement of his privacy. That’s why I said no.”
On Thursday, TMZ claimed that “several girls” had taken pictures at the party using their cellphones as the party got started and that “more photos were taken” after the clothes came off. Neither TMZ nor Clifford has made clear whether they believe the unreleased photographs show the prince in the nude.
British publications have largely steered clear of the photographs, with the prominent exception of Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid, which became the first paper to splash the pictures across its front page on Friday with the words: “HEIR IT IS!” and marketing the grainy photograph as a “souvenir printed edition.”
Britain’s Press Complaints Commission said it has received more than 850 complaints about the naked pictures in the tabloid, mostly from members of the public. Nearly all of the complaints are about invasion of privacy and will be investigated, the commission added.
The paper said it had defied the wishes of the royal family because there was a public interest in knowing what the prince, who represented the queen at the 2012 Olympic Games and is heavily involved in charity work, got up to while abroad.
Privacy lawyer Chris Hutchings, a partner at Hamlins LLP, said the paper’s public interest argument could have traction.
“The public interest argument is on the basis that Prince Harry represents this country around the world and the photos bring into question his suitability to act as a British ambassador,” Hutchings said, although he added: “The Sun have taken a calculated risk in publishing the photos given their inherently private nature.”
Royal officials said they had no further comment on the matter after previously saying that it was down to the editors of Britain’s newspapers to decide whether they printed the controversial pictures.
As of Friday, the palace hasn’t made any official complaint.