A spokeswoman at Clarence House has admitted that a nocturnal photograph of an "extraordinary" desert creature with enormous ears was in fact the Prince of Wales feeling peckish one night on a recent beach holiday in Greece.
The photograph had science geeks across the world jumping up and down with excitement. There were rumours that the creature was the fictitious long-eared jerboa, a mythical beast created by Hugh Lofting the author of the Dr. Doolittle books. The photographer, Dr. Bailey, a well-known drinker of Irish Cream Whiskey, has already sold the picture to a Sunday newspaper for "a large bundle", claiming that he had taken it in the Gobi Desert and that it showed "an ugly big-eared rodent".
The spokeswoman at Clarence House refused to be drawn on how Prince Charles could be mistaken for such a creature, saying only that:
"His Royal Highness, like most mortal human beings, looks pretty dishevelled late at night and early in the morning. The photo was taken by one of his butlers and is out of focus. We have nothing more to say about the matter."
Hugh Lofting introduced the mythical jerboa together with the pushme-pullyou and the giant pink sea snail to readers in the 1920s. His great-great grandson Insulated Lofting said that none of the fictitious animals were based on members of the Royal Family.
It is rumoured that Dr. Bailey has also sold another photograph to the same Sunday paper, which shows a fierce ginger gerbil biting the photographer. He has strenuously denied suggestions that the picture is of Prince Harry.