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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 09:18 GMT
Prince Harry sent to drugs clinic
Prince Harry
Harry reportedly smoked cannabis and drank alcohol
Prince Harry was sent to a drugs rehabilitation clinic for a day after he admitted smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol.

Prince Charles decided to shock his 17-year-old son after learning he had taken drugs in the grounds of his Highgrove home, and drunk heavily at a local pub, said the News of the World.

St James's Palace has not denied the reports, confirming the prince had "experimented with the drug on several occasions", but stressing the cannabis use could not be described as "regular".

His father thought he would benefit from a short, sharp, shock at a rehabilitation centre

Clive Goodman
News of the World
A spokesman said: "This is a serious matter which was resolved within the family, and is now in the past and closed."

The newspaper said the drug-taking and drinking happened over a two-month period last summer, when Prince Harry was 16 and Charles and William were both away from Highgrove.

He drank at the Rattlebone Inn pub near the family's Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire, and smoked a joint at one of the frequent after-hours parties he held back at the estate.

Calm discussion

Many of the pub regulars told reporters on Saturday they had seen Prince Harry in the pub, or knew people who had.

But the new landlady of the Rattlebone, Emma Carter-Williams, said the summer in question was before her time.

The News of the World, with front cover saying:
The News of the World said the story was "every parent's nightmare"
Prince Charles was reportedly alerted to Harry's behaviour by a senior member of Highgrove staff who noticed the odour of cannabis on Harry.

The News of the World said he sat down with Harry to discuss the matter, and then asked William to suggest that Harry attend Featherstone Lodge Rehabilitation Centre in Peckham, south London.

It was hoped he would meet heroin addicts and get a glimpse of the dangers of drugs.

Bill Puddicombe, chief executive of the organisation which runs the clinic, confirmed: "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.

'Sharp shock'

"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."

The paper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, told BBC News 24: "His father thought he would benefit from a short, sharp, shock at a rehabilitation centre.

Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation centre, Peckham
Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation centre: Harry "learnt a lot"
"There is tremendous sympathy for Charles. He has done a fantastic job putting his son back on the straight-and-narrow, as has his brother Prince William."

The report made it clear that Harry had been careful not to get involved with drink or drugs at his school, Eton.

Nevertheless Prince Charles alerted the headmaster to the problem, said the newspaper.

Harry's weekend passes were immediately limited, and over Christmas he was told to spend the entire break with his father and brother.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said he hoped the publicity surrounding Prince Harry's actions could kickstart a sensible debate about relaxing cannabis laws.

Similar experiences

Mr Kennedy told GMTV's Sunday Programme: "We are beginning to see that kind of rational debate.

"When you see the Royal family being touched just like everybody else is, in one way I think good can come out of this setback for him.

"Households right across the country waking up to this story will probably either have had very similar experiences with their own teenagers."

Rattlebone Inn
Rattlebone Inn: Scene of Harry's underage drinking
The Mail on Sunday is also reporting that Prince Harry was at the centre of a police investigation into after-hours drinking at the Rattlebone.

The inquiry began after the prince was involved in a mock fight during a late night pool playing session, the paper reported.

It alleges that he verbally abused a French employee and was ordered to leave the premises.

Constitution advisor Lord St John of Fawsley told the BBC the News of the World's revelations were serious, but should not be blown up out of proportion.

"Prince Harry was the member of the Royal Family who suffered most from the death of his mother," he said.

"The News of the World should have some concern for this boy and not expose him to this kind of publicity because there's no public interest in that whatsoever."

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The Prince of Wales is the clinic's patron"
Dr Robert Lefever, director of Promis rehab centre
"What Prince Charles has done is what any responsible father should"
News of the World royal editor, Clive Goodman
"There is a great deal of sympathy for Prince Charles"
The BBC's Peter Hunt at St James' Palace
"He is a young lad who has had a very difficult childhood"
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