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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 12:34 GMT
Prince Harry's drug use: Did Charles handle it well?
It has emerged that Prince Charles sent his son to visit a rehabilitation unit to see for himself the effects of serious drug abuse.
Chemical dependency experts have praised Prince Charles for his actions - but they have also cautioned that parents should be careful not to overreact if they find that their children are experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
Recent surveys have suggested that there is a rising drugs problem in the UK, with teenagers more likely than most of their European counterparts to have taken drugs, drunk alcohol or smoked.
Did Prince Charles handle the situation well in giving his son a "short, sharp shock"? Are we doing enough in the UK to tackle teenagers' use of drugs and alcohol?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Perhaps it was done as a lesson to Harry that everything he does is in the spotlight and that therefore he should watch himself closer? By taking him to the rehab centre Charles was effectively bringing the issue to the attention of the media where it might otherwise have gone unnoticed. If that is the case, I dislike his approach.
Valerie, Los Angeles
So what? I think there are more important things in this world than reporting on a spoiled rich kid.
Prince Charles handled the situation well. I think we in the UK need to crack down heavily on kids using drugs.
It's all being treated as a huge joke here. He is being called Harry Pothead. It's not that long since the Bush girls were caught drinking underage. The media storm only lasted a few days then it was onto the next piece of trash.
Sharon B, UK
Whilst I appreciate Prince Harry has had a privileged upbringing and that what he has done is clearly wrong, has everyone forgotten that he lost his mother not long ago and that this can have significant on-going effects? He is, after all, a teenager - which can be difficult at the best of times - but the added burden of personal grief can have much more far-reaching effects. Clearly the media have an extremely short memory! Harry's father appears to have dealt with the situation well and the problem should be regarded as closed. The pub which allowed under-age drinking is a totally different matter!
Sending him off to be lectured by heroin addicts simply for smoking a few joints was an over-reaction to say the least. Charles should have dealt with the problem himself.
As for the 'prosecute him' brigade, it has for some years been the practice for police to simply caution anyone caught with cannabis intended for 'personal' use (1/4 ounce or less). They certainly wouldn't dream of attempting to prosecute anyone for smoking a few spliffs sometime last year. A complete waste of police time and public money. In spite of this, the News of the World have apparently sent a 'dossier' of Harry's 'drinking and drug taking' to the police. I hope it was filed where it belongs, in the bin.
I think the only difference between Prince Harry and 80% of 17 year old boys is that (a) he got caught (b) he got put on the front of a paper and it went from there. Leave the kid alone. He's had a tough enough time.
Hugh Payne, Yorkshire, England
Come on now. Be honest. We all used substances when we were young, and if alcohol and marijuana were the only ones we used, our parents might well have been relieved.
I notice Larry, US thinks that we all used substances when we were young. I'm glad he doesn't speak for me. Hugh Payne's view is more realistic - why waste time and sympathy on this miscreant bunch of wasters. Let's talk about something more important.
When Prince Charles was about 14 and was caught drinking cherry brandy at a pub near Gordonstoun, the papers went into a similar uproar. It's just what is to be expected in coverage of the Royal family. I think the worst part of this story is that Charles was irresponsible enough to leave a 16-year-old on his own, especially since adolescence is a rough period and Harry has only him as his one remaining parent. It seems to me that the papers should be looking at that and reviving that headline, "What kind of a Dad are you?", but the Royal spin doctors have done their job so well that no one even questions why Harry wasn't being looked after appropriately in the first place.
I think that the reaction to this is so British, it's so hypocritical. Harry is 17 and is just doing what a great deal of 17-year-olds do, the fact that he is a member of the Royal Family just puts him in the unfortunate position of being constantly unfairly scrutinised. Why do we have these double standards? Prince Harry drank a few pints and smoked a joint, big deal, but because people found out about it and it's not the "public image" that is expected there is a big scandal about it. I think this has a lot to do with the tabloids, willing to drag someone's name through the dirt or ruin their lives for the sake of a good story and also to do with the British attitude of thinking people, especially those in the public eye should present a certain image and shaming them if they don't. The truth is real life isn't like that. I am British but I live abroad now and I know that in many countries something like this probably wouldn't have even made the newspaper never mind the front page.
Just say no to the Royal Family.
Genetically modified OK magazine fodder.
Words fail me! How am I supposed to guide my teenage daughter when role models such as Harry Windsor misbehave with impunity? I hope the police prosecute. Or maybe we should legalise pot?
Signed a confused father
I'd say for a kid caught in the middle of one of the most publicized separations in modern history and whose mother died in a horrific car wreck, Prince Harry has actually turned out very well. People should leave him alone.
When my youngest son was eight years old, I caught him stealing from my purse. Being a one-parent family at the time, any loss of money, however small affected us all. I decided to nip it in the bud. So I took him to our local police station and asked the desk sergeant to have a chat with him, even giving us a tour of the cells, just to show him what can happen if you get involved in crime. Some people thought my approach was wrong, but all I can say that my son now 33, has always said it was the best thing I ever did for him. So I think yes Prince Charles was right to show Harry the results of drug abuse.
Although not a royalist, I think Charles has probably handled it well and it's a fuss about very little. I don't think the odd joint or drink will do the young man too much harm, and it's better than him having been cushioned in snooty royal circles all his life.
I think that Prince Harry should receive any punishment that any normal citizen would get for drug possession. I don't agree with the direction that the drug war is going, but leaders should experience the effects of punishment for themselves if they want to keep things the way they are. (Punishment for drug possession is far worse in the US). If the laws are truly fair, the Royal Family should have no problem with Harry receiving a proper sentence. If the laws are unfair, they can change the laws.
For Pam in the US who said Harry should get the same treatment as any other citizen: Just to let you know here in the UK we are not citizens, we are subjects of HM the Queen. I think her grandson probably does not come under the same banner as the rest of us. Right or wrong that's the truth. Personally I could care less about what Harry does. He's growing up and behaving like a teenager. It's only because of the insatiable hunger of the press for sensation that we have any idea about this at all. I'd say to him - go for it!
Joanna, United Kingdom
By taking swift and firm reaction, I think Prince Charles has made his point. There should be no tolerance of breaking the law and a public show of discipline is a good start.
What a load of over-hyped rubbish. Go Harry - you're only young once. Enjoy yourself while you can.
The main issue here is not the fact that Harry has been smoking pot, but that he has not been sharing. Surely he should have passed the occasional spliff to the Queen Mum to help her with her arthritis? This boy needs to be taught some manners!
Surely Charles should have accompanied his son to the local police station to discuss the source of supply of the cannabis?
Alan Wood, UK
Charles did good but Harry should've stayed in for a week or two to have a real experience. Then, perhaps a future king of England just might turn into a role model one day for other kids using drugs.
It's curious that this story is being force-fed to us in massive quantities now, but apparently it all took place some time ago. Something about a small military operation in Afghanistan may have made the red top papers want to hold on to it until there was less focus on important global issues.
Considering both Harry's mishaps are illegal I find it strange that the police have not commented. Surely the landlord who knowingly supplies drink to an under-age person should be paid a visit? So many people on this forum are stating that alcohol is the worse of the two so why has this not happened?
John Coggins, UK
Harry is experimenting while young as opposed to when older. He will get mocked by his peers for getting sent to a rehab centre, though. Charles should have dealt with this himself on a father-son level and kept those meddling professionals out of it.
Prince Charles should have analysed the situation slightly more and realised that the problem is unlikely to be anything to do with drink or drugs and much more likely to do with being constantly in the public eye and having his mother die under such tragic circumstances. It seems to me that Charles is more happy to blame this on the evils of drugs and the wrong crowd when perhaps he should look at his own role as a supportive father.
Of much greater concern than the fact that Harry has experimented with pot or alcohol is the rather rude and arrogant outbursts both Harry and William have exhibited, whether it's Harry's xenophobic "frog" comments or William on horseback chasing down a photographer. Being a Royal does not make one immune to the arrogance and self-centredness that infects privileged youth everywhere.
Simon Mallett, UK
Give Prince Harry a break. He has tried what most lads of his age have. It's the usual story of the British media looking to make Harry's life a misery just as they did with his mother!
Losing a famous mother at 13 years of age is enough for anyone, let alone a person who is in the public eye all the time. I wish people would let others get on with their lives without resorting to getting the most media attention out of something so everyday. People are always so quick to condemn but so soon to forget. If people lived less in the pocket of celebrities the world would be a lot better.
Alexandra Evans, UK
This is a personal matter and the press should leave them alone. What Prince Charles did in showing the effects of drug use is of limited effectiveness. There will be many more years of experimenting ahead.
Harry's learned something about self-regulation, temptation, responsibility and personal choices. His father has behaved sensibly and I'm sure this whole incident will make the Royal Family seem more human, as well as make Prince Harry a more mature and effective adult, when he reaches an age where such behaviour is both appropriate and expected.
It appears that royal blood doesn't make you superhuman. There is still unjustified fear regarding the subject of cannabis and I'm sure he did not receive proper information on the subject. It's part of life, even Prince Charles can't change that.
I am amazed that the two young princes are both as well-adjusted as they seem. How quickly we forget the hell that these two guys must have gone through as their parents battled it out in the tabloids in a very public divorce - and then to lose their beloved mother at such a young age! Harry will get over this - but remember the life that led him to it!
Ordinaries really should mind their own business in the same way that they hate having their lives and tribulations speculated upon from uneducated quarters.
Yes, Charles did handle it well. I should think so, with the money and position he is in. Considering the Royals have the best of everything I would expect the Royals not to get into such difficulties in the first place.
If everyone who got drunk under-age and smoked a bit of cannabis became headline news we wouldn't be able to pick up the newspapers. Harry is doing what most teenage boys do.
From what I have read in the news, cannabis is not as dangerous as cigarettes and alcohol.
John Brownlee, England
I think Charles behaved responsibly. Marijuana may or may not be a gateway drug but Harry, as a teenager is susceptible to peer pressure. Showing him the realities of drug and alcohol abuse will enable Harry to make informed decisions about his lifestyle and the way he chooses to conduct himself. Harry was drinking under-age and drug-taking within sight of the police in their guise of royal protection officers? Their complicity should not be ignored.
It is against the law, and he should be prosecuted especially as he has been doing it several times. How come he got away with it, did he only get a caution?
Martine, London, UK
It's good to see that Prince Harry after his brush with drink and drugs can receive prompt help at a rehab clinic. Meanwhile other ordinary teenagers may have to wait months if not years for the same treatment. In an ever changing world it's sad to see that some things never change.
I'd be more surprised if at 17, Harry had not had a few drinks or smoked a little. What does concern me is that he was reportedly left "home alone" all summer with no parental or quasi-parental eye being kept on him. You may feel and look as if you are grown up at 16/17, but still need back up, support and someone to watch over you.
I found the saddest and most striking aspect of the whole affair was just how little time the 17-year-old Prince Harry seems to have spent with his one remaining parent last summer. In these circumstances it is hardly surprising he should have kicked over the traces. I agree with those of your correspondents who say that this should in principle be a private matter. But the Prime Minister's very public praise for Prince Charles, when it is obvious that he must bear at least some responsibility for his son's anti-social behaviour, was ill-judged and distasteful.
Definitely a slow news day. Harry smokes pot, Dubya faints on a pretzel.
One minor slip-up and the poor lad has his face splashed across not only the tabloids (which is to be expected), but the broadsheets as well. This is a matter which seems to have been dealt with sensibly by Prince Charles and should have been left alone.
As for the drinking in pubs what on earth was the landlord thinking? Anyone who's been awake the last decade should know how old Harry is!
I think Prince Charles handled the matter very well. The problem here is that whilst smoking cannabis is not regarded a big deal by some people, as is under-age drinking - both are illegal. Harry is certainly old enough to know right from wrong and hence he has knowingly broken the law and exposed the Royal Family to tons of grief. This absolutely fuels the case for a republic. Why should publicly funded individuals should as Prince Harry be allowed to treat the nation with such contempt?
"How many teenagers haven't experimented with drink and drugs".... says it all really.
This acceptance that "normal" behaviour now revolves around drug taking and getting stoned speaks volumes about the sorry state society has been reduced to. I hope my kids continue to avoid "normal" behaviour and get a high from the really important things in life.
As for the drug taking supporters, I'm afraid you're just sheep, a complete and utter irrelevance.
Am I the only person to think that this story has absolutely no news value whatsoever? "Young boy has pint of beer in pub" and smokes a joint afterwards. Amazing! Why is this in the news?
Cannabis is no more dangerous than smoking cigarettes, which are perfectly legal from the age of 16 upwards. It is less addictive than alcohol and evidence has shown it does not lead on to heroin or other harder drugs. I think the reaction of Prince Charles is over the top - why can he not talk to his son like other parents? The media are only reporting it because he's a prince - in fact it's probably the norm! And if Harry is drinking in a pub, why are his police bodyguards not stopping him?
I think Prince Charles has handled this situation brilliantly - he hasn't over-reacted, but he has made his son see what drugs use can do to you. Harry has committed the crime of behaving as many 17-year-olds do - I fail to see why this story has become such a news item. The Royal family long ago stopped being perceived as our moral guides (if they ever were) so why should this poor 17-year-old have his misdemeanours plastered over the newspapers? Adolescence is hideous enough without the News of the World pointing out all your mistakes.
I think the reaction to this incident has shown what the general feelings are towards cannabis. If Prince Harry had tried cigarettes there would not have been this reaction. In response to an earlier comment, all drugs are addictive, whether physically, chemically or psychologically.
How many 16-year-olds haven't been kicked out of a pub? How many teenagers haven't experimented with drink and drugs? What an over reaction to normal teenage behaviours - sending him to see a rehab centre! Incredible. Good on you Harry. Perhaps the Royal Family wouldn't be in such a sorry state if all the other Royals displayed 'normal' behaviour rather than being permanently appended to a silver spoon.
By sending Harry to a rehab clinic for heroin addicts, I think Prince Charles displayed a high level of ignorance about both soft and hard drugs issues, and a damaging lack of respect towards individuals who really are addicted to heroin. When is somebody in a position of power or authority going to react sensibly to marijuana use?!
If the Royals should have no special responsibilities, then why should they have special privileges? If they are not serving a purpose in Britain, why not split up the wealth amongst yourselves? Surely, the fact that Harry isn't going to be prosecuted for what is technically a criminal offence shows a double standard here?
This just goes to show that once again the Royals are humans, live in the real world and are not so out of touch as the anti-royalists might think. Charles has done the right thing and no doubt will make more of an impression on Harry than the hash. I doubt that there are many people in today's society that have not tried drugs.
A visit to a clinic is one thing, but when he is in a group of people his age again and the joint is being passed around, I'm sure he won't say no.
Does it matter? Do you really think that he's going to have the Social Services knocking on his door to take the children into care? Get real. They're Royal: they can do what they like....
Harry is a human being and just as fallible as everyone else. In this case he broke laws which it is generally agreed are unenforceable. Let the boy have his teen hijinks and leave him in peace.
Charles should have had a good talk with his son. As many parents would have done. It would never have been in the papers.
Sending him to a unit would have been the last thing I would have done to my sons. Maybe it is a lesson for his son that in this royal situation you are not really free in your actions, unfortunately.
I wonder if other parents who have had their children expelled from Eton for taking drugs will feel a little aggrieved that Harry is allowed to continue his studies at Eton?
Well done Charles, show him the consequences of his actions. Now perhaps Harry can confront his father about his love of cruelty to animals just for the sheer fun of it namely fox hunting. Cannabis or killing? I know which I prefer.
No, this is clearly a display of weakness. The problem was not dealt with in a normal way, such as a normal parent would have dealt with this. Instead, he was sent to an institution like a sick cat. How is Harry expected to deal with anything on his own when at the first sign of trouble he is sent for help?
I don't wish to endorse Harry's behaviour, but experimenting with drink and cannabis is part of growing up. On a positive note, I think it is vital for the Royal Family, especially those in line to the throne, to experience what life is like outside the cocoon of the Royal Family. After all, if the Monarchy is to continue, it had better modernise and understand it's subjects.
It doesn't surprise me one bit. Harry has been left out of the limelight for most of his life. William has been pushed up front because of his role in the monarchy. But think back... Princess Margaret was pushed out of the limelight when Elizabeth's role in the monarchy became clear, and look what happened to Margaret. Give Harry the love and attention he needs as a growing lad. Don't let the public feel that he doesn't exist. He does.
I hope Prince Charles will be sending him to an AA meeting - because alcohol is far more dangerous than cannabis and should be a more serious cause for concern.
I am a monarchist. Certain members of the Royal Family are letting us down when they should known better and playing into the hands of their detractors. Prince Harry doesn't need a drug rehab unit, he needs a damn good hiding!
We always attack our Royals for being out of touch and not mingling with the subjects. Charles (like his late wife) has done his best to bring his kids up in a open society where the can go to fast food chains and amusement parks. This is just the down side to mingling with the rest of us. No one should face criticism.
Once again, the Royal Family are pandering to the opinions of tabloid Middle England, sensationalising the issue and therefore losing all sense of its point! Admittedly, the Royal Family must be seen to project some kind of Utopian family image for all us gutter-scum to follow, but, a rehab clinic for heroin addicts?! Come on! He is not the first person to take recreational drugs, nor the first to drink under-age... by going to far overboard with the issue by sending him to a rehab clinic for genuinely ill people, the Royal Family are once again showing how out of touch they are!
The only thing that disturbs me in all this is the report that Prince Charles learned of the incidents from a servant. I'd like to think that if my son smokes pot, I'll be the one to notice it.
Poor Harry, it will mean the sniggers every time somebody calls him "Your Royal Highness" from now on. But taking the kid to a rehabilitation clinic for hard drug abusers because he smoked the odd joint? Unbelievable. It's
Prince Charles who needs a talking to, not Prince Harry.
I say install him as king now. It's about time the monarchy got a little interesting and more like the people they're supposed to represent. I'd prefer my taxes go on pot for Harry than hats for the Queen Mum.
Bastiaan Kniphorst, Netherlands
I think Prince Charles did do well. But more importantly, we should never have found out about it. Harry is a 17-year-old child and hasn't yet taken up Royal duties. At least let them have a childhood before we start hounding them.
I cannot believe the fuss made over this very minor mishap. It just shows that he is a real human like the rest of us mortals. What is not cricket is way the press have dealt with this issue.
Smoking a little marijuana is one thing. Yes, it's illegal but then so is under-age drinking. What is the landlord of that pub doing allowing the Prince to drink heavily at 16 or 17 years old in the first place? It's not as if the third in line to the English throne can lie about his age, is it? If you're going to make a fuss about one offence then why not the other?
I am happy to see royalty displaying normal human behaviour. We are all using some kind of drug. Our life needs addictive content. Some people get a kick from buying things. Others get high on TV shows. Others use drugs! There are worse things being done legally.
Prince Charles handled the situation in the smartest way possible. Regardless of people dismissing pot as harmless it is still illegal in many countries and alcohol, while perfectly legal, has a nasty way of addicting people. If more parents reacted the way Prince Charles did then perhaps there would be fewer screwed-up young people.
I can't believe the fuss that has been made. Smoking marijuana has similar dangers to ordinary smoking and in my experience doesn't lead straight on to hard drugs (which many people seem to think). You'd have thought Harry was some sort of heroin addict by the way he was sent to a rehab clinic.
Er, hello Kaye: He is third in line to the throne and marijuana was illegal the last time I looked. He has certain responsibilities to fulfil and he should be prosecuted. I use pot a lot but, my friends, the law is the law.
Yes, Prince Charles should be commended for his actions. Prince Harry's visit to the rehabilitation centre has obviously had a positive effect on him. I think that Ed Wickes is being vindictive in calling for Prince Harry to be prosecuted - will he agree to surrender himself to police custody every time he smokes a joint, since by his own admission he uses pot? I would hope that Prince Harry has now learned his lesson and would dissuade anyone else from following this course of action.
Pete, London, UK
I think that it is great news that Prince Harry has smoked some dope. What does concern me is that the press are going crazy over a story of a kid, who comes from a broken home, lost his mother and cannot lead a normal life. He even gets hounded for doing something as trivial as smoking a few spliffs. I mean come on, this government is about to relax the laws on cannabis because it is not a problem substance. If anything the press should be talking about the dangers of drinking so heavily at his age.
Is cannabis necessarily dangerous? Surely not compared with alcohol, which causes many injuries and deaths each year. Shouldn't we be more concerned that Prince Harry has been drinking heavily while under age, presumably with the collusion of one or more local publicans?
Cannabis isn't a physically addictive drug and it is not really that strong. Harry could have quite easily stopped but I think Charles wanted to teach him a lesson for his own peace of mind. But it does bring up a new debate. If the third in line for the throne can smoke cannabis and it didn't lead him onto hard drugs why can't the rest of us mere mortals do it?
I just want to know if we are allowed to call him Harry Potter from now on?
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