Prince Harry has long been known as the wilder of Prince Charles' and the late Princess Diana's two handsome sons, smoking marijuana, drinking while still underage and frequenting London's trendiest nightclubs.
Now the 20-year-old prince has run into another bout of bad publicity, scuffling early Thursday morning with a paparazzi photographer just a week after fending off charges that a teacher helped him cheat on a school test.
The prince cut a photographer's lip after pushing a camera away outside the pricey club popular with celebrities at about 3 a.m., according to Clarence House, the office of Harry's father, Prince Charles.
The photographer contended that Harry, third in line to the British throne, hit him without provocation.
"Harry Snaps," blared a headline in London's Evening Standard newspaper Thursday.
Harry's older brother, William, 22, who is second in line to the throne, presents a more serious public face, studying geography at St. Andrew's University in Scotland and running this summer in a charity race.
A royal spokesman said Harry cut photographer Chris Uncle's lip after pushing a camera away during a scuffle outside the Pangaea club in central London's Piccadilly area.
Paparazzi photographers often wait outside Pangaea, whose patrons include such celebrities as supermodel Naomi Campbell and rocker Liam Gallagher of the band Oasis.
"Prince Harry was hit in the face by a camera as photographers crowded around him as he was getting into a car," the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. "In pushing the camera away, it's understood that a photographer's lip was cut."
Uncle, 24, said he had done nothing to provoke Harry.
"Prince Harry looked like he was inside the car and we were all still taking pictures," the Evening Standard newspaper quoted him as saying. "Then suddenly he burst out the car and lunged toward 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?'"
Formal charges possibleUncle said he reported the scuffle to police and was considering filing a formal complaint. London's Metropolitan Police said they were aware of the incident but had received no complaint.
Big Pictures, the agency for which Uncle works, declined 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 showed Harry lashing out at the photographer, looking angry as another man held him back and then sitting in a car with his head in his hands.
Harry, who plans to enroll next year at a military college, has endured a bout of bad publicity in recent years. Last week, his representatives fended off a former teacher's allegations that she helped him cheat on an art exam at Eton, the exclusive secondary school he attended. A tribunal rejected the accusation.
In 2002, Harry was caught on camera smoking marijuana and drinking while underage, prompting Charles to send him to a drug rehabilitation center for a day to talk to recovering addicts.
Britain's tabloid newspapers delighted in the story, dubbing the young prince "Harry Pothead."
In February, a tabloid columnist called him a "national disgrace," a charge that Charles' spokesman labeled "grossly unfair and ill-informed."
The royal family has tried to soften the red-haired Harry's growing public image as a rebellious party boy.
He has taken this year off from school, traveling to Australia, where he worked on an Outback cattle ranch, and Lesotho, in Africa, where he spent time with AIDS patients and played with children orphaned by the disease. Harry's rapport with AIDS sufferers seemed to echo that of Diana, who broke taboos in the 1980s by visiting and touching people with the disease when many were afraid to do so.
"I believe I've got a lot of my mother in me, basically, and I think she'd want us to do this, me and my brother," he said of his work with the orphans.
He also said in the documentary titled "The Forgotten Kingdom: Prince Harry In Lesotho" that he and William tried to lead normal lives, but that was made "very difficult" by the media spotlight.
The family's relationship with the press has sometimes been tense, and paparazzi photographers were tailing Diana when her car crashed in Paris in 1997, killing her, boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.