(NEW YORK) — Before Prince Harry was caught playing pool naked in front of cameras in Las Vegas, he was all dressed up at a Sin City hotel pool, wearing a tank top custom-made for a visiting bachelorette party.
“He asked us if he could wear one of our bachelorette shirts and we didn’t hesitate,” one member of the bridal party, all from New York, told “Good Morning America.” “[He] put it on and, wearing our tank tops, jumped on his friends shoulders and waved his hands in the air.”
The bridal party’s tank tops said “Let’s get Wild,” and Prince Harry, 27, seemed determined to do just that when he ran into the girls last weekend, even asking who among them was single and where they were staying.
“He didn’t really have a lot of security, which is really surprising,” one said. “He was just looking to have a good time. He didn’t say anything rude or obnoxious, just really kind.”
“He was like a normal guy,” another said. “It was kind of amazing that here is the prince of England.”
That Harry, the third in line to the British throne, was at a public pool party and later partying in a hotel room where cellphones were not confiscated has amazed security experts and, according to sources, infuriated Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and the rest of the royal family.
“I think the security could have been better on this occasion,” Ken Wharfe, a former bodyguard for Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, told GMA. “What’s important about this is that this isn’t just Harry having a private party. This is a hotel, in America, where he invites people he’s never met before, into his own hotel room. When you do that you actually start compromising your own security.”
Harry had maintained a low profile in Vegas, going virtually unnoticed amid stars like Jennifer Lopez and Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, until he invited a group of girls up to his Vegas hotel suite where the now infamous naked pictures, first posted by TMZ, were taken.
“What should have happened, and what didn’t happen, sadly, it would appear, they need to be searched. Their identities need to be checked,” Wharfe said. “Had they been carrying something else besides their mobile phones, say some drugs or firearms, we would have had a real security problem.”
Harry, who returned to England earlier this week, is now known to have begun his raucous vacation a few days before Vegas, partying with friends at the Necker Island estate of Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson.
The prince, along with friends including Arthur Landon, Tom “Skippy” Inskip and rumored love-interest Cressida Bonas, spent a week on a private island to celebrate the 27th birthday of Branson’s son, Sam, according to the U.K.’s The Telegraph.
Pictures posted from that week-long vacation include a guy wearing the same shorts that Prince Harry wore in Vegas passed out in the sand and a photo of two girls dressed in neon bathing suits and neon-pink wigs.
From Necker, Prince Harry and two more from the group – Landon and Inksip, according to the Telegraph – flew on to Vegas for more partying.
The palace has stayed mum on Harry’s partying, beyond confirming that the naked photos are real and then issuing a demand to the British media that they not use the photos.
Prince Charles and the queen are on their annual summer break at Balmoral. Prince William, Harry’s older brother, is on duty with the RAF in Anglesey, Wales, where he has captained two rescue operations in the past 10 days.
Harry, who was said to be in Vegas blowing off steam before reporting back to duty, has now reportedly returned to his Army base in Wattisham, Suffolk, this week before a planned visit to Clarence House for discussions with aides.
“What we’ve got to remember here is this man is a serving Army officer of captain rank, he’s the third in line to the throne, he’s publicly known globally, he has a reputation, everyone knows him,” Wharfe said.
“What needs to happen now is … some serious talking needs to be happening with his private office, with his private secretary and the head of the Royal Protection Department here to build upon a better relationship.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Megan Marsden Christensen, KSL.com
Lisa Respers France, CNN
Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com