(LOS ANGELES) — Prince Harry was uncharacteristically quiet as he boarded a plane in Los Angeles for a flight home to England just hours after Buckingham Palace confirmed that naked pictures posted online of him partying at a Las Vegas hotel are real.
Harry, 27, dodged reporters’ shouted questions about the photos as he boarded the plane’s first class cabin on Wednesday, where he reportedly stayed the entire flight.
TMZ posted photos on Tuesday of the naked prince playing pool in a hotel suite. In one of the photos, reportedly taken last Friday, Harry is seen standing and covering his genitals with his hand. An unidentified woman, who also appears to be naked, is standing behind him.
In another photo, the prince is bear-hugging a naked woman.
Harry, the third in line to the British throne, had been in Las Vegas on holiday with friends, letting off steam before the next phase of his military duties, sources told ABC News.
Once home in England, Harry, who as recently as this month’s London Olympic Games had been a major part of the positive press sweeping the royal family, will have to face his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and the rest of the royal family.
“She [the queen] will be unhappy about it,” Arthur Edwards, royal photographer for The Sun, told ABC News. “She probably choked on her cornflakes when she heard about it.”
“But I imagine Prince Philip will probably enjoy it,” he said.
The palace said it won’t be making any further comments about the nude photos. But on Wednesday, Harry’s office took action to prevent the British press from using the pictures. The prince’s team confirmed it had contacted the Press Complaints Commission which advised British newspapers to not publish the pictures.
Facing the risk of a lawsuit or being forced to make an apology, the British press largely steered clear of the digitized naked photos, choosing instead to run other photos of Harry in Las Vegas. The UK’s tabloid newspaper, The Sun, however, got creative and used a staff member, also named Harry, and a 21-year-old female intern to recreate the naked pose under the headline “Harry grabs the crown jewels.”
While Harry faces the queen and his father, Prince Charles, his security team is also being questioned Thursday, about why they did not do more to protect an heir to the throne from an embarrassing situation.
In England, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police defended the security guards traveling with the notoriously fun-loving prince.
“Royal protection officers are there to protect him for security reasons; they are not there to regulate his life,” Bernard Hogan-Howe told the Telegraph of London.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Lauren del Valle, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN