Simon Perry and Stephen M. Silverman
October 21, 2004 08:00 AM

Britain’s Prince Harry was hit in the face with a camera and a photographer sustained a bruised lip as the two apparently scuffled outside a London nightclub Thursday morning at 3 a.m.

A spokeswoman at Clarence House (the office of Harry’s father, Prince Charles), says: “Prince Harry was hit in the face by a camera as photographers crowded around him as he was getting into a car. In pushing the camera away, we understand that the photographer incurred a cut lip.”

Eyewitness Charlie Pycraft, himself a photographer, tells PEOPLE that Harry – “looking pretty red-faced,” as if “something triggered him off” – went out of his way to approach photographer Chris Uncle, 24.

“He was half in the car and then lunged for a photographer,” Pycraft says of Harry, 20. “(Uncle) was taking pictures, but he hadn’t banged into him or done anything. He hadn’t touched Harry. The guy he went for was pretty mild mannered. If he did have a problem with someone, he certainly went for the wrong person.”

Pycraft says he didn’t see any pushing or shoving of the prince. “Photographers were running around. But no one wants to push or get near the subject, because they are not going to get the pictures,” he says. “There was no provocation from the photographers’ point of view.”

Pycraft adds that he has a photo of Harry “grabbing the camera of the photographer – he pushed the camera into his face. You have 10 photographers there shooting over a hundred pictures … from 10 different angles. If anyone had pushed (Harry) there would be a picture showing it. Witness-wise, you couldn’t get more witnesses.”

In one picture taken right after the fracas – and which was being shown on network newscasts in America Thursday morning – Harry, wearing faded jeans and a polar fleece sweat top over a white T-shirt, is seen being restrained by one of his royal protection officers, who has his hands around the prince’s waist.

Harry, who was coaching rugby earlier this week, has been sidelined with an injury to his knee, insiders say, and he is staying with friends on Thursday. He is not expected to re-start his rugby coaching until next week. Last week, Harry was accused of cheating on a school exam, though the allegations have yet to be proven true or false.

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