Arthur Landon, one of Britain’s richest young men, was with Prince Harry during their holiday and said the person who had sold the pictures was “despicable” and had abused the Prince’s hospitality.
Mr Landon, who is worth more than £200 million, told The Daily Telegraph that he suspected the culprit was one the bikini-clad girls who attended the party.
He insisted his friends were “really careful” not to betray the Prince and said none of them would have been involved in the sale of the images.
He spoke out as Prince Harry returned to Britain to explain his antics to aides. He is understood to have returned to Clarence House on Thursday, rather than heading directly to Balmoral in Scotland where Prince Charles and the Queen are on their annual summer break.
New details on Thursday emerged about the Prince’s royal protection officers in Las Vegas. The US website that published the photos reported that the officers failed to ask the partygoers to surrender their phones on entering the lavish hotel suite and made only cursory attempts to prevent the pictures being taken.
One of the minders was quoted as “lackadaisically” telling the women who were invited back to the Prince’s room for a game of strip billiards in the early hours of the morning, “Awww, come on…no photos”. One reveller was quoted as saying that the officers “acted like a bunch amateurs”. Scotland Yard said it would never comment on protection matters.
There were also reports that, as the party got under way, several girls took pictures with their mobile phones, prompting concerns that further images could be released. On Monday the Royal family moved to prevent the publication of photographs in the British press by contacting the Press Complaints Commission.
The Sun last night became the first British newspaper to publish the naked photos, stating that there was a “clear public interest … in order for the debate around them to be fully informed’’.
It also published quotes from an unidentified woman who said she had been in the hotel suite when the photos wer taken.
She said Harry had been the first to strip and the game had taken place in front of about 25 people.
The partygoer said: “When we got to the room Prince Harry was already there. There were about 25 people in total, at least 15 girls.
“There is a beautiful billiards room in the suite. One of the guys said I have an idea, let’s spice up a game of pool. Harry said lets f*****do it. That was what jump started the party.
“The rules were if you potted the ball you got to go again. If you missed you took a piece of clothing off. Harry pulled that girl up to play with him. She had her eyes on Harry so she was going to do anything.”
Mr Landon, a 30-year-old film maker, was one of the tight-knit group that accompanied the Prince on the now infamous holiday. He inherited his fortune from his late father, the arms dealer Brig Tim Landon, who is said to have helped organise a coup d’état in Oman.
Prince’s friends would have been responsible for the circulation of the photographs, which were sold for an estimated £10,000.
“I obviously think it is really despicable that someone would accept Prince Harry’s hospitality and then take these pictures,” he said. “I know it has put a real dampener on everybody who was on that holiday.”
Mr Landon, who was educated at Ampleforth and Bristol University, added: “Some people have been hinting that it was one of his friends who took the pictures. But that is absolutely not true. None of his friends would ever do that. We are really careful.
“I wasn’t in that hotel room so I don’t know if one of those girls took the pictures, although I was there on the holiday. I think a lot of people have been left really disgusted to think that someone would have gone into Harry’s hotel room, taken those pictures and then released them to the world.”
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that it would not be censuring Prince Harry, an Apache helicopter pilot, over the photographs.
Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Diana, the Princess of Wales, insisted the Prince had done nothing “immoral or wrong”. She told the Evening Standard: “His mother always thought that there should be a distinction between her private life and her public life. The same should apply to her sons, both of whom are serving their country. He isn’t married. He has the absolute right to privacy in his private time.”