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An Apology For The Sophie Topless Photo

By: PhantomPublished: 06/12/1999
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LONDON (Reuters)
Britain's top-selling Sun tabloid apologized for publishing a topless picture of royal bride-to-be Sophie Rhys-Jones after Buckingham Palace and Prime Minister Tony Blair led a furious outcry.

The Sun splashed a photograph of TV presenter Chris Tarrant playing the fool with Rhys-Jones in the back of a car over 10 years ago and yanking her bikini top to reveal a bare breast.

Rhys-Jones, 34, said the scandal would ruin her wedding to the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, and Tarrant accused the press of trying to bury the royal couple's marriage.

"This has ruined my engagement. This (wedding) was supposed to be the happiest day of my life," the Daily Mail quoted Rhys-Jones as saying.

It said she felt "utter betrayal" and Edward was "totally disgusted and livid".

She is due to marry 35-year-old Edward -- seventh in line to the British throne -- at Windsor Castle near London on June 19.

Sun editor David Yelland said he had apologized to Rhys-Jones for running the picture in Wednesday editions.

"We clearly upset Miss Rhys-Jones. It's clear to me that we have caused her great distress," Yelland said in a statement.

"I have therefore decided to apologize to her and the palace. I believe this is the right thing to do," he said.

"No more topless pictures of Miss Rhys-Jones will appear in the Sun. I wish her and Prince Edward the very best although I don't expect to be invited to the wedding."

Rhys-Jones's former work colleague Kara Noble, who took the photograph and sold it to the tabloid for as much as $400,000, was sacked by her employer, radio station Heart FM, following the revelation.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "This is premeditated cruelty. It is a gross invasion of privacy and not in the public interest."

Rhys-Jones's public relations business partner Murray Harkin said Sophie -- who did not go to work because of the scandal -- was extremely distressed.

A spokesman said Prime Minister Tony Blair wholeheartedly condemned the publication of the picture and that Buckingham Palace had complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which polices the newspaper industry through a voluntary code of conduct.

Despite the PCC complaint, there were fears of a new tabloid offensive against the royals, who had been given a wide berth since the death of Princess Diana nearly two years ago.

Heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles negotiated a press amnesty on coverage of his two children, Princes William and Harry, after Diana's death, but the tabloids have since started to mold scandals around their close friends and relatives.

Tarrant, who will be at the wedding, also struck out, saying there were no skeletons in Rhys-Jones's cupboard and the press should stop trying to ruin her marriage to Edward.

"There must be thousands of young British girls who have got pictures like this in their private collection," said Tarrant, who is host of Britain's most popular quiz show.

"There was never ever the slightest romance between Sophie and myself. Leave Sophie alone."

The Sun said the picture was taken during a working trip to Spain in 1988 by Noble, who was then Tarrant's breakfast show co-host at London's Capital Radio. Rhys-Jones, then 23, was working in public relations at the station.

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    pardon me for asking but..... (0 replies)
    started by Johnd1
    (09.19.2000 8:37:29 PM EST)


    Where's the Picture (0 replies)
    started by markcurryallen
    (07.31.2000 12:04:01 PM EST)

    Anybody have a copy of this picture that stirred up the Brits?

    First (0 replies)  
    started by foxer33
    (07.28.2000 0:12:48 AM EST)

    blow me

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