The Sun was the first British newspaper to publish photos of Prince Harry’s nude antics in Las Vegas, despite warnings from the royal family’s lawyers that doing so would be an invasion of the prince’s privacy.

The Sun’s front page Friday was the photo of Harry, covering himself after having lost a match of strip billiards, along with the headline, “Heir it is!”

(Screenshot: Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In a BBC interview, David Dinsmore, the managing editor of the Sun, said it would have been “perverse” not to publish the photos because “hundreds of millions of people had seen them online earlier in the week.”

St. James’s Palace has previously asked the British media to refrain from publishing the images but said the decision was ultimately the papers’ to make.

The Sun’s actions sparked rebuke from some who felt the paper ignored the royal family’s pleas for privacy.

"The Sun's actions prove that, as of this morning, self-regulation is now dead. This [story] is not in the public interest, it is in the self-interest of Murdoch to earn money by breaching the privacy of anyone he wants, to sell his newspapers,” former deputy prime minister John Prescott told the Guardian.

British media watchdog Press Complaints Commission received more than 150 complaints about the photos’ publication, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

On Twitter, however, the reaction was mostly lighthearted.

Its not the fact that The Sun are publishing the photos its the “friend’ who took the photo and then scuttled off to the press that gets me.

— Alan Carr (@AlanCarr) August 24, 2012

And a good point raised in the Daily Telegraph letters

— Neil Sharman (@Sharmani) August 24, 2012

Reeling at Prince Harry’s shocking breech of protocol. Correct behaviour when carousing in Vegas is to confiscate all camera phones

— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) August 24, 2012

Not sure what’s more ridiculous. The outrage over the Harry photos or the outrage over the publication of the Harry photos.

— Dan Hodges (@DPJHodges) August 24, 2012

Some argued that, in an age when incriminating photos are circulated instantaneously on the Web, the decision to print the images was less shocking than slow-moving:

Oh my, The Sun is publishing the Harry photos we all saw on the internet on Tuesday. What’s their next exclusive? The Keyboard Cat?

— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) August 23, 2012

On Thursday, the Sun had avoided publishing the real photos by asking two of its interns to replicate the pose in a staged photo.

(Screenshot: Huffington Post)

Other British papers had similarly avoided printing the photos by using previously-taken, less-scandalous images of partially clad Harry:

(Screenshot: The Atlantic)

(Daily Mirror) (Screenshot: the Atlantic)

(Screenshot: ITV News)

By printing the photos, the Sun risks being chastised by the Press Complaints Commission, which can demand an apology but cannot issue fines, the Associated Press reports,. It could also potentially be subject to an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit from the prince.

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