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