The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said The Sun newspaper's publication of naked photographs of Prince Harry in a Las Vegas hotel was not justified.
He said it was not in the public interest to print them - but he said it was up to editors to decide what they want to put in their papers.
And he expressed concern that the incident could deter Prince Harry from carrying out further public service.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hunt said: "I personally struggle to see where the public interest is in publishing those photos but I don't think it is the job of politicians to tell editors what they should and shouldn't publish."
He said of the 27-year-old royal: "It was obviously an embarrassing moment for him, but I hope that people will remember the good work that Prince Harry does.
"He is someone who has done a massive amount to get more young people to play sport and he, I hope, will not be put off the enormous good that public service can do and that he personally is contributing.
"This is someone who has a huge amount to give."
The royal was photographed naked, covering his genitals, with an unnamed nude woman in the background at a party in his suite in Las Vegas last Friday.
He and his entourage met some women at a hotel bar and invited them to the suite, before they played a stripping game and someone took the images with a camera phone.
The images were published online by US celebrity website TMZ, but initially British newspapers avoided using them when St James' Palace made a request through the Press Complaints Commission to respect the prince's privacy.
The Sun chose to publish the pictures on Friday after saying it had become an issue of "freedom of the Press".
News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch defended the newspaper's decision to print the photos.
He posted on Twitter: "Needed to demonstrate no such thing as free press in the UK. Internet makes mockery of these issues."
Mr Murdoch also urged people to give Harry "a break".
He tweeted: "He may be on the public payroll one way or another, but the public loves him, even to enjoy Las Vegas."