Prince Harry scuffles with photographer outside London nightclub

Thursday, October 21st 2004, 10:13 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Britain's Prince Harry was hit in the face with a camera during a scuffle with a photographer outside a London nightclub early Thursday, a royal official said. The photographer said Harry struck him without provocation.

The prince cut a photographer's lip after pushing a camera away during the incident outside the Pangaea club at about 3 a.m., according to Clarence House, the office of Harry's father, Prince Charles.

``Prince Harry was hit in the face by a camera as photographers crowded around him as he was getting into a car,'' a spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. ``In pushing the camera away, it's understood that a photographer's lip was cut.''

The younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, 20-year-old Harry is third in line to the throne.

He is often depicted in the press as the wilder of Diana's sons, in comparison with his university student brother, Prince William, 22.

The photographer, Chris Uncle, said he had done nothing to provoke Harry.

``Prince Harry looked like he was inside the car and we were all still taking pictures,'' London's Evening Standard newspaper quoted the 24-year-old photographer as saying. ``Then suddenly he burst out (of) the car and lunged towards me as I was still taking pictures. He lashed out and then deliberately pushed my camera into my face.''

``The base of the camera struck me and cut my bottom lip,'' Uncle said. ``At the same time, he was repeatedly saying `Why are you doing this? Why don't you just leave me alone?'''

Uncle said he had reported the scuffle to police and was considering filing a formal complaint. Police said they were aware of the incident but had received no complaint.

Big Pictures, the agency for which Uncle works, declined to comment.

James Taylor, 18, another photographer outside the club, told the Standard it looked like Harry had been pushed and hit his head as he got into the car, and then ``he literally lunged at this photographer,'' shouting and swearing as bouncers and bodyguards held him back.

``I've covered Harry before and never seen him like this,'' Taylor said.

Pictures of the scuffle, showing Harry lashing out at the photographer and grabbing his camera. Other photos showed the young prince looking angry as another man held him back and then sitting in a car with his head in his hands.

Paparazzi photographers often wait outside Pangaea, a pricey club in London's Piccadilly area that is popular with celebrities. Patrons reportedly include supermodel Naomi Campbell and rocker Liam Gallagher of the band Oasis.

Harry, who left school in 2003 and plans to enter Sandhurst military college next year, has often been photographed in nightclubs, although he spent part of the past year working with AIDS orphans in the southern African country of Lesotho.

In 2002, his father sent him to a London drug rehabilitation clinic for a day after he was caught smoking marijuana.

Last week, a tribunal rejected claims by a former teacher at Eton college that she had helped the prince cheat on an important art exam.

In an interview broadcast in September, Harry said he and William tried to lead normal lives, a task made ``very difficult'' by the media spotlight they live under.

The family's relationship with the press has sometimes been tense, and photographers were tailing Diana when her car crashed in Paris in 1997, killing her, boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.