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Michael Douglas defends his wife in London …

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were returning to their London hotel on Thursday night when she began screaming that a member of the paparazzi had punched her in the face.

She walked into the hotel lobby and began screaming and gesturing with an outstretched arm – repeatedly stabbing a finger for emphasis: “He punched me. I want a police officer right now. He punched me.”

Handlers began trying to identify the photographer when Douglas walked back out into the fray. He cursed and shoved someone out of camera range before being pulled back into the confines of the hotel lobby.

On Thursday the Welsh-born actress was presented with a CBE. Prince Charles bestowed the Commander of the Order of the British Empire on Zeta-Jones, the third-highest rank in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The couple and their children have already headed back to the U.S. They were photographed moving through Heathrow Airport earlier today.

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Photos: WENN