U.K. tabloid The Sun prints naked Prince Harry pictures

LONDON - AUGUST 02: Prince Harry hosts a reception for school games athletes, at Clarence House, on August 02, 2012 in London, England. The event was held for about 25 young athletes who won medals during the First National Finals of the School Games, which were held at the Olympic Park last May. (Photo by Jon Bond - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
WPA Pool
Prince Harry hosts a reception for school games athletes, at Clarence House, on August 02, 2012 in London.
WPA Pool/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) British tabloid paper The Sun splashed naked photos of Prince Harry across its front page on Friday with the words: "HEIR IT IS!"becoming the first U.K. paper to print the photographs.

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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 - was doing abroad.

Harry was photographed in the nude during a party at his Las Vegas hotel suite. The pictures - published by celebrity gossip site TMZ earlier this week - reportedly were taken following a game of strip pool.

While the photos were widely available on the Internet, not one British tabloid had printed them until Rupert Murdoch's The Sun. Privacy lawyer Chris Hutchings said that 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."

Elisabeth Murdoch, Murdoch's daughter, said she supported The Sun's decision.

Speaking at the International Television Festival in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, she said she felt bad for the prince, but that the photos were already all over the Internet.

"It would be very sad if we lived in a world where we can't publish that picture," she said.