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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Prince Harry in nightclub scuffle
Prince Harry outside Pangaea nightclub. Matrixphotos.com

Prince Harry has been involved in a scuffle with a photographer outside a London nightclub.

Royal officials say Harry was hit in the face with a camera in the incident, in the early hours of Thursday morning.

But the photographer involved said the 20-year-old prince - third in line to the throne - had lashed out at him, leaving him with a cut lip.

The incident happened outside Pangaea nightclub near Piccadilly in London's West End, at about 0300.

It comes just a week after a teacher accused the prince of cheating in his art A-level exam.

"Prince Harry was hit in the face by a camera when photographers crowded around him as he was getting into a car," a royal spokesman said.

"In pushing the camera away, it's understood that a photographer's lip was cut."

Harry 'burst out of car'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said police were aware of the incident but no complaint had been made.

The paparazzi photographer involved, Chris Uncle, said Harry had "deliberately lashed out".

Mr Uncle, 24, told the Evening Standard newspaper: "Prince Harry looked like he was inside the car and we were all still taking pictures.

Photograph taken by Charlie Pycraft
Witnesses said Prince Harry pushed the photographer
"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 photographer claimed that royal bodyguards dragged the prince away.

A witness, another press photographer Charlie Pycraft, told BBC News 24 that the prince had lunged at Mr Uncle.

"He was half-way getting into the back of the car when he suddenly reacted and lunged at him and grabbed his camera and pushed him against the wall."

He said Prince Harry was restrained by his bodyguard and two doormen from the nightclub.

Until recently, Prince Harry was relatively sheltered from media attention.

Every time Harry goes out he is stalked, he is ambushed
Dickie Arbiter, former royal press secretary

An informal agreement between royal officials and the media meant photographers left Prince Harry and Prince William alone to complete their education.

A former royal press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, says last night's incident was bound to happen.

"Every time Harry goes out, he is stalked, he is ambushed and there is a little bit of intimidation in order for the paparazzi to get the right photograph and it was one of those things that was waiting to happen," he told BBC News 24.

Mr Arbiter said he could not remember any similar physical clashes between members of the royal family and the paparazzi.

"Most people will agree that even a royal, and a 20-year-old one at that, is entitled to a little bit of privacy and at three o'clock in the morning to be able to go home without having to worry about a photographer."

Art work

Home Secretary David Blunkett was asked about the incident.

"I think I had better allow the royal family to handle that, just as I would want to handle it if something happened to one of my sons," he told reporters.

The princes are entitled to privacy like anyone else
Liz, Brighton, UK

In September, Prince Harry passed entrance exams to Sandhurst military academy.

Sacked Eton art mistress Sarah Forsyth told an employment tribunal that she had helped the prince pass one of the A-levels he needed to get into Sandhurst.

Miss Forsyth's lawyers revealed that she had secretly recorded a conversation with the prince in which she claimed he admitted he had done little work on a coursework piece.

Clarence House described the claims as "incredibly unfair".

How the incident outside a London nightclub happened

No inquiry into Prince Harry tape
15 Oct 04  |  Education

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