Harry Lying Low After Nude Pictures Furore

Prince Harry is reported to be back in the UK but is keeping a low profile after embarrassing pictures of him partying naked in Las Vegas were published on the internet.

US celebrity website TMZ, which was first to publish the photos, showed video footage of someone who appeared to be the prince covering his face with his arm as he was driven by car to the airport.

It is not known where the royal is lying low but Clarence House told Sky News he currently has no public engagements in his diary.

After attending a variety of Olympics' events and the closing ceremony on August 12, it is not thought that Harry will be present at the Paralympics' opening ceremony on August 29.

A spokesman from Clarence House said, depending on his military duties, he may attend some of the events though.

Meanwhile, the decision by the British press not to publish the naked pictures of the prince is a sign that the recent Leveson Inquiry has resulted in "neutered newspapers", a former News Of The World executive editor has said.

Neil Wallis said he would have published the photos , apparently taken on a camera phone as the third-in-line to the throne partied in Las Vegas over the weekend, if the incident had taken place before the inquiry into media ethics began.

He told Sky News that newspapers were now "terrified of controversy" and would not print the pictures even though it was in the public interest.

"If these pictures had landed on my desk two years ago I'd have run them. If they'd landed on my desk, and I was still a newspaper editor or senior executive now, I don't think I would, I don't think I'd have had the nerve. The change is simple, it's the Leveson Inquiry.

"Newspaper editors, newspaper executives are terrified of controversy now.

"If they get a controversial story that causes a furore an editor could lose his job, advertisers could be panicked into not advertising in their newspapers, because the mood in the newspaper industry is now so febrile.

"Some people might say that the Prince Harry story is a classic example of where the newspaper should basically wave two fingers at Leveson... and just stick it in the paper.

"I'm afraid the world isn't like that anymore, the newspaper world is too cowed, too nervous, too jumpy.

"What Leveson is doing is killing investigative journalism in this country. Investigative journalism, in the main, for decades, has been done in the mid-market and the tabloid press."

He said a "bizarre" situation had emerged where the images were widely available online, but were not available in British newspapers.

"What's completely and utterly bonkers is the idea that we cannot pick our paper up today and see these pictures that the world is talking about, but if you flick on the web they're all there, and millions of people around the world are laughing at the idea that Britain does not allow the public to view the pictures that they are looking at."

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie echoed Neil Wallis's views, saying it was a "fantastic" story.

He said: "It doesn't affect Prince Harry at all, because in a way he is a 28-year-old Army officer, he is single and he is cavorting with ladies who wish to be cavorted with.

"So where are the issues? There are no issues except one: Leveson."

St James' Palace on Thursday confirmed lawyers had written on its behalf to the Press Complaints Commission reminding editors about a privacy clause in the PCC's own guidelines - guidelines, the Palace pointed out, that were drawn up by the press for the press.

In one of the pictures Harry is shown wearing just a necklace and a wristband with his hands covering his modesty as a seemingly topless woman stands close behind him.

In another, the still-nude royal is shielding himself behind an unknown woman who is also naked.

TMZ claims Harry and his entourage met some women in a hotel bar and invited them up to his suite where they played a game of strip billiards.

A source said the prince was just "letting off steam" before the next important phase of his military career. 

The pictures are the latest gaffe by the prince, whose past indiscretions include smoking cannabis as a teenager and scuffling outside a nightclub with a photographer.

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