Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2002
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Associated Press
Author: Thomas Wagner (AP)


LONDON - Britain's 17-year-old Prince Harry was taken to a rehab center 
after he admitted he had smoked marijuana and illegally drank alcoholic 
beverages, the first public embarrassment involving one of Princess Diana's 
children since her death.

The story, broken by Sunday's News of the World tabloid under the headline 
"Harry's Drug Shame," and all but confirmed by the royal family, dominated 
British news reports all day.

It also led to widespread speculation about what it will mean for the royal 
family and for Prince Harry, who could conceivably be expelled from Eton, 
the prestigious private school.

But given how many parents have faced similar problems with their 
teen-agers, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles won 
praise for the way he had dealt with Harry, who is third in line for the 
British throne after his father and brother.

Blair, whose son Euan, then 16, was arrested when police found him drunk 
and vomiting in London in July 2000, said Charles had faced a difficult 

"I know this myself," Blair told the British Broadcasting Corp. "I think 
the way that Prince Charles and the royal family have handled it is 
absolutely right and they have done it in a very responsible and, as you 
would expect, in a very sensitive way for their child."

The problem drew comparisons to the one that President Bush had faced last 
year, when one of his twin teen-age daughters was charged with using 
someone else's identification to try to buy a drink at a restaurant in Texas.

The charge was eventually dropped after Jenna Bush showed proof that she 
had performed community service, attended alcohol awareness classes and 
paid a $100 fine.

Marijuana use is illegal in Britain and the United States. The legal 
drinking age is 18 in Britain, and 21 in Texas.

Harry drank with friends at a pub last summer near Charles' Highgrove 
country estate in western England and smoked marijuana with friends, 
according to the media reports.

After learning of his son's drug use, Prince Charles sent Harry, then 16, 
to a drug rehabilitation center in south London for a day.

Harry - who was 12 when Diana died in a car accident in 1997 after 
divorcing Charles - did not need therapy at Featherstone Lodge, but spent 
the day talking to recovering addicts.

Asked about the reports, Charles' office at St. James's Palace said: "This 
was a serious matter which was resolved within the family and is now in the 
past and closed."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the spokesman also told The Associated 
Press the royal family did not dispute the reports about Harry's drinking 
and marijuana use or the guidance he received at the rehab center.

Bill Puddicombe, chief executive of Phoenix House Treatment Service for 
Drug Dependency, which runs Featherstone Lodge, said Harry had visited at 
the request of his father, a patron of the center.

"As we understood, it was an opportunity for the Prince of Wales to teach 
Prince Harry about our work and the consequences of taking drugs," 
Puddicombe said. "He came for a couple of hours on a day in late summer and 
talked to several people in recovery - heroin and cocaine addicts mostly."

Charles was alerted to his son's behavior by a Highgrove staff member, who 
noticed a strong smell of marijuana, the newspaper reported. When Charles 
confronted Harry about his drinking and marijuana use, the boy confessed, 
the paper said.

On Sunday, a commission that established rules to protect the private lives 
of Harry and William from media intrusions reminded the press that it must 
obey them now that the boys are back at school.
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