August 29th, 2012 06:05 AM
LONDON—Whatever the royal family may think of his exploits in Las Vegas, many Britons can barely hide their support for Prince Harry, posting naked pictures of themselves online in tribute.
A Facebook group entitled “Support Prince Harry with a naked salute!” — featuring people posing in various states of undress saluting the third-in-line to the throne — has won 13,000 members and is still growing.
The group sprang up after Harry, 27, was photographed naked with a mystery woman during a game of “strip billiards” in a Las Vegas hotel suite.
The images, first published on a US website last Wednesday, rapidly went viral and caused a furore in Britain.
But supporters have posted a flood of images of themselves saluting while in various states of undress — often with strategically placed props including Union Jack flags, backpacks and teddy bears.
The Sun newspaper published photographs on Tuesday of what it said were British soldiers serving in Afghanistan, posing naked and saluting Prince Harry.
Harry, an army officer and a trained Apache helicopter pilot, served in Afghanistan for ten weeks himself but was pulled out in February 2008 after a media blackout broke down.
The Sun is the only British newspaper to have published the nude snaps of Harry, in defiance of orders from the royal family to respect the prince’s privacy and restrain from printing them.
The online show of support for Harry came as it was announced that he will be the patron of a charity race to the South Pole between three teams of wounded servicemen from around the world.
Harry, who last year joined a group of injured soldiers as they trekked to the North Pole, is supporting the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge 2013.
Troops from Britain, the US and the Commonwealth who suffered physical or cognitive injuries while serving will take part in the four-week expedition next year.
Royal officials said it was “far too early” to tell whether Harry would join the group for the gruelling trek.