Private photographs of a young Prince Philip were obtained by a Russian spy during the Cold War as part of a bid to discredit the Royal family, a television documentary will claim this week.
The pictures, which remain potentially embarrassing, allegedly show the antics of the Thursday Club, a drinking and social set of which the Duke of Edinburgh was a member.
The club, whose regulars included actors David Niven and Peter Ustinov, met weekly in Soho and was described in BBC presenter Andrew Marr's book The Diamond Queen as 'a cheerfully louche group of men, artists and actors, photographers and aristocrats' which took the Prince 'to the edge of a gamey, and indeed seamy, set'.
The programme on Russia's REN TV says the images are 'scandalous'. They were taken in the 1950s by the Duke's close friend and fellow club member, photographer Baron Nahum.
According to the programme, the legendary Soviet spy Yevgeny Ivanov used a special camera to take copies of the photos from an album in the possession of Stephen Ward, the high-society osteopath central to the Profumo scandal, who was also associated with the club. Ivanov is believed to have sent them to his spymasters in Moscow.
Despite a plan to reveal the pictures in Wednesday's documentary, called Operation Royal House, a source at REN TV indicated yesterday that the photos would not now be shown.
Author Gennady Sokolov, who wrote a book used in the making of the programme, said some of the pictures were 'certainly embarrassing' and that Ivanov called them his 'royal porno collection'.
Prince Philip is understood to be fully dressed in the pictures which might be deemed risque rather than pornographic by today's standards.
- DAILY MAIL