Paper publishes naked Harry photos

The Sun has become the first British newspaper to publish naked photos of Prince Harry, stating there was a "clear public interest" in the matter "in order for the debate around them to be fully informed".

The pictures of the prince frolicking in the nude with an unnamed woman in Las Vegas made headlines around the world but until now no papers in the UK had used them following a request from St James's Palace, made via the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), to respect Harry's privacy.

A spokesman for St James's Palace said it had no comment on The Sun's decision to publish them in Friday's edition.

One of the two naked pictures of Harry is splashed across the front page of the Sun, just a day after the paper got a member of staff to pose for its front page in a mock up. It carries the headline: "Heir it is!" with an editorial explaining the reasons behind their decision to print it.

The Sun said it was carrying the pictures so the millions of people who get their news in print or have no internet access could "take a full part in that national conversation".

It adds: "The photos have potential implications for the Prince's image representing Britain around the world. There are questions over his security during the Las Vegas holiday. Questions as to whether his position in the Army might be affected. Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy."

The public have been able to read about the prince's antics in a Las Vegas hotel suite during a "strip pool" party that left him holding his genitals while standing in front of a naked woman.

But to see the pictures, they have had to access the US-based celebrity gossip website TMZ that broke the story, or scores of other internet pages across the globe carrying the images.

It was widely believed that editors had shied away from publishing the photos in respect of past rulings on privacy and their own press watchdog along with the ongoing Leveson Inquiry into media ethics.

A spokesman for the PCC said: "This was an editorial decision taken by The Sun. Should the PCC receive a complaint, it will investigate it following normal procedures."