A paparazzi photographer involved in a scuffle with Prince Harry outside a London nightclub has said the prince "lashed out" at him without warning.
Witnesses said Prince Harry pushed the photographer
Chris Uncle, 24, said Harry had "burst" out of his car and "lunged" towards him, leaving him with a cut lip.
But a royal spokesman said Prince Harry had been hit in the face by a camera, and was trying to push it away.
Harry - third in line to the throne - had been spending the evening at Pangaea nightclub in London's West End.
Harry 'dragged off'
"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."
The incident comes just a week after a teacher accused the prince of cheating in his art A-level exam.
Some newspaper reports suggested a member of the press pack had asked Harry a question about his A-level just before the incident.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said police were aware of the nightclub incident but no complaint had been made.
"Prince Harry looked like he was inside the car and we were all still taking pictures," Mr Uncle said.
"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.
An informal agreement between royal officials and the media meant photographers left Harry and his brother William alone to complete their education.
A former royal press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said a confrontation of some kind was bound to happen at some stage.
"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."
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
Clarence House described the claims as "incredibly unfair".