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Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK


Sun apologises in royal picture row

Sophie and Prince Edward are to marry in a few weeks' time

The editor of The Sun has apologised to royal bride-to- be Sophie Rhys-Jones for running a topless picture of her.

In a statement David Yelland acknowledged the upset caused to Miss Rhys-Jones.

"It's clear to me that we have caused her great distress. I have therefore decided to apologise to her and to the Palace."

Buckingham Palace had earlier condemned the publication as "premeditated cruelty".

Kara Noble, a disc jockey with a London radio station, who took the photograph, has been sacked after it appeared in the newspaper.

Peter Hunt, Royal Correspondent: "The publication of the photos couldn't have come at a worse time"
Prince Edward's fiancée was snapped topless with Capital Radio DJ and TV presenter Chris Tarrant while on a business trip to Spain in 1988.

Ms Noble was at the time Mr Tarrant's co-presenter and a friend of Miss Rhys-Jones.

The Palace confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it had made a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about publication of the picture.

The complaint was made under Section Three of the industry's code of practice, regarding privacy.

[ image: Sun widely condemned]
Sun widely condemned
Mr Tarrant has also condemned the publication of the picture, and said he was taking legal action over it.

"There was never, ever the slightest hint of romance between Sophie and myself, let alone these snidey insinuations," he said.

[ image:  ]
He said he felt "totally sickened" about what had happened, and that there was a "taste of dirt" in his mouth.

And he issued a plea for people trying to "dig up dirt" on Miss Rhys-Jones to leave her alone before she became the object of the same level of media interest as Diana, Princess of Wales.

"Edward and Sophie are getting married, they are a happy young couple in love.

"They haven't done any harm to anybody and there are no skeletons in the cupboard."

The publication of the photograph on Wednesday comes less than a month before Miss Rhys-Jones and Prince Edward are due to marry at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

'Huge, huge betrayal'

It also comes on an important day for the Royals as the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales are in Cardiff for the official opening of the new Welsh Assembly.

Miss Rhys-Jones is said to feel "utter betrayal" at the publication of the picture. The Daily Mail newspaper reports that she feels ''let down'' over the affair.

According to the Mail, Miss Rhys-Jones is upset that the picture has been published so close to her wedding.

[ image:  ]
Rumours of its existence have been circulating for some time.

The Mail quotes an unnamed friend saying: "The picture is entirely innocent and was taken years before she met Edward.

"Even so, she had been assured, once she started dating the Prince, that it would never see the light of day. It is a huge, huge betrayal."

Miss Rhys-Jones was a 23-year-old press officer with the London music station when the photo was taken.

Ms Noble, 40, is quoted as saying that Mr Tarrant had formed a close bond while working with Miss Rhys-Jones.

She told the newspaper: "There was a strong mutual admiration society going on which led to them being affectionately teased by me and other staff.

"The picture was a result of that cosy familiarity between them."

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