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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 03:00 GMT
Palace 'dismayed' by drug reports
Prince Charles with Prince Harry
The palace says the problem has been resolved
By BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell

St James's Palace has not denied that Prince Harry was sent to a drugs rehabilitation clinic for a day after he admitted to smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol.

It is acknowledging that there has been a problem... but suggesting that the reports are exaggerated

Nicholas Witchell

It is acknowledging that there has been a problem - a "serious matter", as it says in the statements.

But it is suggesting that the reports in the News of the World are exaggerated.

The palace is saying that over a two-month period last year, thought to be last summer, Prince Harry "experimented on several occasions" with the soft drug cannabis.

It said that this was always in private. It is acknowledged also that he was drinking heavily.

It is reported that he was confronted by his father, Prince Charles, and that as a consequence Prince Harry went - just on one occasion, for a couple of hours - to a drug rehabilitation centre where he saw heroin addicts, and saw the consequences of drug abuse.

'No more experimenting'

St James's Palace insists that this matter has now been resolved and is closed.

News of the World front cover
Charles and Eton "will be watching carefully"
According to the palace Prince Harry has himself decided that he no longer has any wish to continue to experiment with cannabis.

His father has been confronted by a problem which of course many parents will be confronted by.

He and the authorities at Eton College, where Prince Harry is now back at school, will be watching the situation very carefully to make sure there is no resumption of what they acknowledge is a very serious matter.

Concern about friends

Certainly St James's Palace will be dismayed that this has occurred.

The concern may be that Prince Harry, and indeed at an earlier stage Prince William, were with people - in fact some of their friends were people - who had experimented with drugs, and indeed taken that experimentation to a rather more serious level.

The palace will be anxious to co-operate with Eton to ensure between them that Prince Harry does not resume any of this "experimentation".

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