August 22nd, 2012
09:54 PM ET

Embarrassing pics could harm a soldier’s career several ways

Britain’s Prince Harry has a number of groups interested in how he conducts his private life, not the least of which is his employer, the British Army.

A spokesman for the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that the ministry wouldn’t comment on pictures showing Harry - third in line to the British throne and an Army captain who has served in Afghanistan - naked while on vacation in Las Vegas.

He may be relieved that the incident is being portrayed in some circles as an unfortunate breach of his trust.

Although there’s no British military reaction, the incident did get us to wondering how much trouble a potentially embarrassing - even if not illegal - photo or video would present for a U.S. service member.

Depending on the specifics, the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice could pose a number of difficulties for Americans in uniform, said Victor Hansen, a retired Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer and a professor at New England School of Law, Boston.

For officers, the code’s Article 133 allows military trial and punishment for “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” For enlisted members, Article 134 allows the same action for conduct prejudicial to “good order and discipline in the armed forces” and “conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

Commanders have wide discretion, and oftentimes cases aren’t referred to courts-martial. Commanders often instead give reprimands or administrative sanctions, Hansen said.

A wide variety of cases - including accusations of dishonesty, officers gambling with enlisted soldiers, writing bounced checks - have been prosecuted. And even if an officer’s conduct is just being naked in a photo or video, commanders could deem the behavior to be unbecoming an officer or conclude the behavior “causes someone to question that officer’s fitness” for leadership.  That could lead to a court-martial, Hansen said.

“There’s this phrase that’s repeated often in the military: ‘You’re a soldier 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’ With respect to officers in particular, given the higher expectations that are on them, the reality is that you’re kind of on notice through this statute,” Hansen said. “You have to be circumspect in your behavior at all times. If you’re not and someone catches you in a down moment, that can have significant consequences.”

Maximum punishment for conviction under Article 133 is dismissal from service and incarceration. Regardless of sentence, the practical reality for guilty officers is that his or career is over, Hansen said.

Outside of Articles 133 and 134, service members also have to abide by rules prohibiting sexual activity in public or in the presence of a third party, Hansen said. Whether that applies to naked photos depends on a commander’s interpretation of the event, Hansen said.

Hansen didn’t recall specific cases involving prosecution for being in naked images, outside of one involving a service member who allegedly acted in a pornographic movie.

As for Prince Harry, there was little to suggest that his incident would cause much of a lasting stir in his country, Army or otherwise.

“Most people in Britain that I’ve spoken to think it’s hilarious. The palace will pretend to be outraged. And I suspect that he will be asked to perform his new expert sport of strip billiards at the Christmas party for the royal family,” Piers Morgan, host of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” and a former British newspaper editor, said Wednesday.

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Filed under: Military • United Kingdom
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. wisefool


    August 22, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wisefool

    it's 'cause Todd is A Kin to nonsensical gentry

    August 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wambam

    Matthew Chants(sp?) has missed the public feeling on this. Maybe he's jealous, who knows. But last time I checked, what goes on in a private suite is none of the public's business. Now if he'd streaked through the lobby that would be different. Too many prudes around. Glad to see Harry's enjoying the local hospitality.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. cg

    An officer may be out of uniform as long as he is properly dressed for the sport in which he is engaged. Harry was most properly dressed in his necklace and watch. Leave this officer alone to get on with his life. This should not affect his military career.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Peter P Zember

    When the sppedo bathing suitcame in many years ago, I always thought it was like no bathing suit at all.
    Some of the sport bikes are also called ,naked street fighters.
    Some schools have mandatory nude swiming pool rules.
    If I recall correctly that survivors, being stranded swam in warm waters, naked to survive.
    I hope Sir Harry overcomes the trend of nude beaches.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    He's in his hotel of his "friends" snapped and leaked this picture.
    It seems *his* rights were violated, rather than any code of conduct in his military...would everyone be having the same reaction if he had his photo taken while stepping in the shower, for instance?

    August 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Good morning banasy
      How are you today ? I left a comment for you back on the original Prince Harry thread.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Good morning, Rawr.
      I'm doing ok, I guess.
      How are you?
      Better, I hope.
      I'll go look at the other thread.

      August 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Oh, Rawr, I just read it, and there is *nothing* to forgive you for; you did nothing wrong, dear man.
      *I* brought it up; just answering your question...I've developed a pretty thick skin, and I can talk about things like that now without my heart breaking.
      I know you were not being deliberately cruel.
      The day you start tip-toeing around me and censoring what you say is the day I hop on a plane, grab our "daughter", hunt you down and knock the sense of humor back into you!

      Besides, he *is* nekkid!

      August 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat)©


    My tire was thu mping....
    I thought it was flat....
    when I looked at the tire....
    I noticed your cat... Sorry

    August 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      American Greetings bought that one.

      August 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Lemon Squeeze
    There once was a religious young woman who went to Confession. Upon entering the confessional, she said, ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.’
    The priest said, ‘Confess your sins and be forgiven.’
    The young woman said, ‘Last night my boyfriend made mad passionate love to me seven times.’
    The priest thought long and hard and then said, ‘Squeeze seven lemons into a glass and then drink the juice.’
    The young woman asked, ‘Will this cleanse me of my sins?’
    The priest said, ‘No, but it will wipe that smile off of your face.’

    August 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat)©

    A ten-year-old Jewish boy was failing math. His parents tried everything from tutors to hypnosis; but to no avail. Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enrol their son in a private Catholic school.

    After the first day, the boy's parents were surprised when he walked in after school with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face. He went straight past them, right to his room and quietly closed the door.

    For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room – with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, went straight back to his room, closed the door and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime.

    This pattern of behaviour continued until it was time for the first quarter's report card. The boy walked in with it unopened – laid it on the dinner table and went straight to his room. Cautiously, his mother opened it and, to her amazement, she saw a large red 'A' under the subject of Math.

    Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son's room, thrilled at his remarkable progress. "Was it the nuns that did it?" the father asked.

    The boy shook his head and said "No."

    "Was it the one-to-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?"

    "The textbooks? The teachers? The curriculum?"

    "No", said the son. "On that first day, when I walked in the front door and saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I KNEW they meant business!"

    August 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat (in a hat)©

    An Englishman,a Scotsman,a Welshman,A Latvian, a Mexican,an American, a Swede,a Norwegian,a Dutchman,a German,a Spaniard,an Egyptian,an Irishman all worked into a restraunt and called the manager over and asked for a table "sorry you guys says the manager cant let you in with out a thai".

    August 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oleg

      L O L : )

      August 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Doesn't sound like bobcat at all @12:55, even though the joke was funny.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John Ross

    Who cares? The kid is blowing off some steam with his pals and some hot women. Good for him. He what? Guy has been in combat...his name is on the AQ hit list. Kid lost his mom. He is in his own room. Sweet room by the way. I'd like to buy him a drink.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I know, right?
      So much ado about nothing!
      It'd be a *totally* different story if it were Prince William...

      August 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nick

    At least Harry wasn't caught with a dude. He is just doing what a lot of U.S. military soldiers and officers do while overseas.

    August 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    Religious prude. Take your cult elsewhere.

    August 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J.-Louis Girard

    Prince Henry should be discharged without honour from the British Army, for his ¨Pools¨party in Las Vegas!

    August 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
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