Buckingham Palace on Friday termed “irresponsible” newspaper reports that a kidnap threat forced Britain’s Prince Harry to cut short a trip to a polo pony farm in Argentina.
A spokesman for Harry, son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, played down front page reports in most British newspapers that armed police foiled a plot to kidnap the young prince.
“I have seen the headlines. It is just hugely irresponsible,” the royal spokesman said, declining to categorically deny the stories.
“We never comment on security matters,” he added.
Harry, third in line to the throne, arrived back in Britain early on Friday and made no comment to waiting reporters.
The Times of London trailed the story on its front page with the banner headline: “Kidnap threat forces Prince Harry home.”
Murder suspect allegedly tips off police
Citing the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, the Times said a murder suspect in the local underworld tipped off the Argentine government about a plot to kidnap the prince.
The Times report said 15 armed officers were sent to patrol the ranch, in Lobos in the Pampa region, 60 miles southwest of the capital Buenos Aires.
It said police fired shots into the air on Wednesday night after detectives suspected kidnappers were near the ranch.
Local police told Reuters on Thursday that shots were heard near the horse ranch, but said this was nothing unusual.
The mayor of Lobos, Gustavo Sobrero, attributed the shots to hare hunters in comments to radio station Mitre on Thursday.
The British Embassy in Buenos Aires would not comment.
The 20-year-old prince arrived at the ranch less than a month after scuffling with a photographer outside a central London nightclub.
Harry earned the reputation as a royal “wild child” after revelations that he smoked marijuana and drank when under age.