LONDON // The British royal family warned the country's newspapers not to publish nude photographs of Prince Harry cavorting with friends on holiday in Las Vegas.
The photographs, published in the United States by celebrity news website TMZ.com, showed the third-in-line to the throne naked in a hotel suite.
In one of the two photographs, the 27-year-old is pictured, apparently wearing only a watch and a necklace, covering his genitals with his hands while another person, who also appears to be nude, stands close behind him.
In the other, he is bent over bear-hugging a second person, who also appears to be naked. It is not clear if the person is a man or a woman.
Clarence House said that the images were genuine. "At this time we don't have a comment," a spokesman said, adding: "We may do later."
It is rare for Clarence House to confirm the validity of such images, which raise questions about security surrounding the British royal.
A royal spokesman later confirmed the family had contacted the Press Complaints Commission, the country's newspaper regulators, to request that British newspapers did not print the images, arguing it would be a breach of privacy.
The two images were taken at a private suite in the Wynn Resort after a game of strip billiards last weekend, according to TMZ.
Newspapers adhered to the palace's request, although The Sun's front-page carried a mock-up of the infamous photograph.
The Mirror had "Harry naked romp" splashed across its front page while the Daily Mail ran with "Palace fury at Harry naked photos" as its main headline.
A royal source told the UK's Press Association news agency that Harry had been "letting off steam before the next phase of his military career".
Video has also been released from the same trip that purports to show the prince racing US Olympic swimming gold medallist Ryan Lochte in the pool of a nightclub in the hotel.
Mr Lochte, who was in Las Vegas belatedly celebrating his 28th birthday, told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper that he was "surprised" Harry had challenged him to the race, which the swimming star won.
"He's a great guy, and it was a huge honour to meet him," Lochte was quoted as saying, adding: "I definitely wasn't going to take it easy on him!"