Reports say Prince Harry walked out of a London nightclub, apparently drunk at 3 a.m. Saturday. He reportedly took a swing at a photographer and then fell to the ground, stumbling as he was trying to get in his car before being driven away. A royal family spokesperson denies that the Prince did anything wrong and in just a few weeks he's due to go to Iraq with his Army unit.
Prince Charles' London office on Saturday night denied that his son, Prince Harry, was involved in a scuffle with a photographer as he left a nightclub.
The young royal allegedly lashed out at a paparazzi as he left popular celebrity haunt Boujis in central London early Saturday.
Harry is shown in several Sunday newspapers apparently stumbling to the ground and being helped to his feet. In another picture, he is seen standing behind photographer Nirach Tanner who claims the prince attempted to assault him.
Photos: A Prince And An Officer
Patrick Jephson, the former private secretary to Princess Diana, said this latest incident is very embarrassing to the royal family because the photographs taken of the prince show him acting spoiled and not like a dignified military officer.
"Of course, he is on leave at the moment," Jephson, a former Naval officer, told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "And as the spokesman accurately points out, lots of military officers go out on the weekend. Harry, unfortunately, gets photographed by the news of the world so he's painted as being worse than he really is."
Of course, the prince has been through a lot in his young life. He was only a boy when his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash in 1997. Jephson said when Prince Harry was younger he was devoted to his mother and now he is devoted to her memory.
"Used to be a nice joke about the young Harry that if you wanted him to do something, the trick was to tell him to do the opposite," Jephson said. "So he's always had a mind of his own."
The News of the World newspaper quoted Tanner as saying the prince swore at him.
"He screamed at me ... then grabbed me and tried to shove me over. He had his hands around my collar and back," Tanner was quoted as saying.
Prince Harry is often closely followed by paparazzi as he visits London nightclubs or bars in an effort to catch him in uncompromising situations. Two years ago, he came under fire for dressing like a Nazi at a costume party. He later apologized.
Jephson pointed out that "British cavalry officers have been falling out of nightclubs for a great many years," so Prince Harry's behavior isn't that far from the norm and it's probably not fair to assume he has a drinking problem.
"There is, perhaps, more of a judgment problem," he said. "If we accept that boys will be boys, this is not a boy like any other. He's about to go off to war, about to come into a very stressful situation. Anything that cast doubt on his judgment, even at the young age of 22, is probably more embarrassing than the issue of whether or not he's had too much to drink."
Jephson said that the military has said there will be no repercussions for the incident, but the British armed forces and the forces of the crown take their reputation very seriously.
"I suspect there's more than one senior cavalry officer looking at their newspapers this morning and saying, well, if this isn't bringing the service into disrepute, I don't know what is," he said.