LONDON – Prince Harry has been caught in tricky situations before — but never quite like this.

The website images showing the 27-year-old prince — naked in a compromising position with a young woman, also apparently naked, in a hotel room in Las Vegas — have met with a shocked silence in Britain.

The pictures were described Wednesday as a “major embarrassment” for Prince Harry, who was reported to be “on his way home” from the U.S.

The pictures are believed to be the first intimate images ever to be published of a senior member of Britain’s royal family.

“Crown jewels on display in Vegas this weekend,” said U.S. celebrity gossip website TMZ, which published the photographs Wednesday. “A game of strip billiards escalated into full-on royal nudity,” it added.

Mainstream British newspapers have, so far, refrained from publishing the pictures, which date from Friday.

It was understood that a guideline was issued by Britain’s media watchdog advising editors of an “unjustified intrusion” into the prince’s privacy if the images were published.

The restraint of the British press is unusual, but not surprising, given the recent lively debate surrounding the protection of the private sphere that followed the phone-hacking scandal involving tabloid newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In its brief statement on the photos, St. James Palace confirmed that the images were indeed of Prince Harry, but added that his privacy should be respected.

“Whether the royal family privately sees it the same way, must remain open to question,” commented the BBC’s royal reporter.

However, both the frankness of the palace in commenting at all on the photos, and the apparent restraint shown by the media, cannot conceal the shock and deep embarrassment that is being felt about the affair.

The fact that Harry is a captain in the British army does not lessen the embarrassment. As a trained Apache helicopter pilot, he wants to serve in Afghanistan.

Rowling’s one U.S. appearance: Oct. 16 in N.Y.C.

NEW YORK – This fall, British writer J.K. Rowling plans to make her one and only in-person appearance in the U.S. to promote her first novel for adults.

The “Harry Potter” author will discuss “The Casual Vacancy” at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center on Oct. 16. The venue can seat about 1,100 people.

Little, Brown and Company announced Wednesday that Rowling will be interviewed on stage by fellow author Ann Patchett and will take “select” audience questions. Rowling also will sign copies of her new book for each audience member. Booksellers will have access to a live webcast.

Tickets sales star on Sept. 10.

NCIS actor trusses bad guy for real

LOS ANGELES – LL Cool J plays a special agent on TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and now he’s caught an actual bad guy.

The 44-year-old rapper struggled with and subdued a suspected burglar early Wednesday morning at his home in the Studio City area, police said. He was not hurt.

Los Angeles police Sgt. Frank Preciado said Wednesday that police got a 911 call shortly before 1 a.m. from the performer’s daughter, who said an intruder was in their home and her father was holding him downstairs.

“A physical altercation occurred between the suspect and the victim, James Todd Smith, also known professionally as LL Cool J,” said Preciado.

A 58-year-old suspect was taken to the hospital and was expected to be arrested on suspicion of burglary.