Pubdate: Sun, 13 Jan 2002
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Maurice Chittenden
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


PRINCE Harry has admitted smoking cannabis. The third in line to the throne 
confessed to his father that he smoked joints over a two-month period 
during his school holidays at Highgrove last summer. He was 16 at the time.

Harry also confessed to underage and after-hours drinking at a local pub 
where he was introduced to cannabis. Several pub regulars returned to his 
father's country estate and on one occasion smoked joints in a basement den 
converted for the princes in the royal cellars. Harry calls his hideaway 
"Club H" and has had it equipped with a sound system and a well-stocked 
bar. The Prince of Wales confronted his youngest son after staff reported 
their suspicions, and then sent him to meet hard-core drug addicts at a 
London rehabilitation clinic where he heard horror stories of addiction.

Prince Harry denied smoking the drug inside Highgrove but admitted he had 
smoked it in the grounds.

Last night a spokesman for St James's Palace said: "This is a serious 
matter which was resolved within the family and is now in the past and closed."

It is understood Prince Harry did not need treatment for addiction to 
either drink or drugs. Bill Puddicombe, the chief executive of the clinic, 
told The Sunday Times last night: "I can confirm Prince Harry attended our 
rehabilitation centre.

"We explained the programme that people go through to get over the 
addiction of heroin, cocaine and other drugs. I was delighted to discover 
the visit had been a success. When I saw Prince Charles in November he told 
me that Harry had definitely learnt something."

Prince Harry's troubles began during June last year when his brother 
William was on a gap year in Australia and South America and his father was 
often away or in London. Harry was effectively home alone with staff at 
Highgrove, Gloucestershire.

Though accompanied by his royal protection officers he was allowed to roam 
as he wanted and began to frequent a country pub in the nearby village of 
Sherston. It was at the Rattlebone Inn, six miles from his home, where 
Harry became involved in after-hours drinking sessions, and on one occasion 
was involved in a late-night fracas over a pool session. Harry is said to 
have been thrown out after insulting the French chef and calling him "a f 

It was in an outhouse at the rear of the pub that Harry was introduced to 
cannabis. One of Harry's new-found friends later brought the drug into 
Highgrove where staff eventually noticed the pungent odour.

A family friend quoted last night said: "Charles was very calm. He didn't 
confront Harry aggressively but sat him down and asked him to tell the 
truth. Harry immediately confirmed that in the past two months

he'd been smoking cannabis on several occasions, that he'd brought friends 
back to Highgrove parties and that he'd been drinking a lot.

"Though Charles did not scream and shout at Harry, he did gently question 
him, asking, 'Are these really the right people to be hanging around with? 
Are these really the right things for you to be doing at 16 in your 
position?' Harry was very mature about it and quickly realised the error of 
his ways."

But Charles decided drastic action needed to be taken to shock his son and 
arranged a visit to Featherstone Lodge in Peckham, southeast London, run by 
the drug charity Phoenix House.

Prince Harry was accompanied at sessions with former heroin addicts by an 
aide, Mark Dyer, and his police bodyguard.

One of Prince Charles's aides quoted in today's News of the World said: 
"The prince knew that Harry attending group therapy on the evils of drugs 
would educate him away from the fashionable assumption that cannabis use is 
okay and does not lead to harder, more serious drugs."

Prince Charles also banned Harry from visiting the Rattlebone Inn and 
alerted Harry's head master at Eton to the problem. Andrew Gailey, Harry's 
housemaster, visited Highgrove on Friday to discuss the situation.

The 17,604 pounds-a-year school restricted Harry's weekend passes when term 
resumed in September and over Christmas he was told to spend the entire 
break with his father and brother.

Prince William, now studying at St Andrews University, is said to be a 
calming influence. "Prince William is very anti-drugs and a clean-living 
young man with a great sense of duty," a family friend said. "He is a good 
influence on his brother, who is more easily led by his peer group."

William has had his own brush with drugs. He was offered a joint during his 
10-week Raleigh International trip to Chile in 2000.

According to a fellow expedition member who witnessed the scene, he firmly 
rejected the drug, holding up his hands and saying "no thanks".

Apart from keeping a close eye on his son, the Prince of Wales considers 
the matter closed. There are no plans to increase Harry's security, though 
the incidents raise serious questions as to why royal protection officers 
failed to either stop the prince or alert their superiors.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: "Our protection officers have 
not made any reports of security concerns. Security has not been compromised."

It is recognised that protection officers face a difficult balancing act 
between the discretion necessary to retain their charge's trust and 
vigilance. But family friends claimed last night that Prince Harry's 
drinking went back to before his teens and that he had experimented with 
cigarettes from the age of 11 or 12. It was also alleged last night that 
cocaine had been available at the Rattlebone.

The landlord of the pub has since changed. Emma Carter-Williams, the new 
landlady, last night denied any suggestion that customers had smoked 
cannabis on the premises.

It is felt in royal circles that Harry has dealt with the situation 
responsibly after being found out. Buckingham Palace has taken the line 
that Harry is no different from thousands of youngsters of his age who come 
into contact with cannabis.

Charles's own embarrassing downfall during his time at Gordonstoun was to 
attempt to buy cherry brandy while underage. He has also admitted smoking 
cigarettes "behind the chicken run at school" until he was 11.

Cannabis is still illegal, despite speculation that the government may soon 
downgrade it from a category B to a category C drug, making possession a 
non-arrestable offence.
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