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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 23:07 GMT
Prince Harry rides out drugs row
Prince Harry spent a day at a rehabilitation centre after admitting smoking cannabis
Prince Charles sent his younger son to a drug clinic
Prince Harry has returned to Eton, following a day at home in the wake of newspaper revelations that he had smoked cannabis and drunk alcohol to excess.

The 17-year-old prince spent Sunday away from his boarding school, with his father and elder brother at their Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire.

He is said to be embarrassed and upset about revelations in several Sunday newspapers about him smoking and drinking last summer.

Reports said Prince Charles had sent him to a drug rehabilitation clinic for a day, to shock him, after he admitted taking the drug.


Harry ... must now expect intense media scrutiny of his behaviour when he's out in public

Jennie Bond
BBC royal correspondent

The prince - third in line to the throne - had also been drinking heavily at a local pub, according to press reports.

The Press Complaints Commission said newspapers and magazines must still respect the privacy of both princes despite the drug-taking revelations.

The director of the industry watchdog, Guy Black, said all publications must honour their pledge to spare the young royals from media intrusion into their lives.

"It is important to underline that this was an exceptional matter of public interest," he said.

'Sensitive'

"But this does not detract in any way from the tough rules that apply to all children, including Prince Harry, while they are at school."

BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond said the prince's privacy at school is likely to be respected, as it has been in the past.

But she added: "Harry has put himself firmly in the spotlight, and he must now expect intense media scrutiny of his behaviour when he's out in public."

St James's Palace confirmed the prince had "experimented with cannabis on several occasions", but stressed his use of the drug could not be described as "regular".

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

The News of the World front cover
The News of the World said the story was 'every parent's nightmare'
The drug-taking and drinking is understood to have happened over a two-month period last summer, when Prince Harry was 16 and Charles and William were both away from Highgrove.

He reportedly drank at the Rattlebone Inn pub near Highgrove - which has since changed hands - and smoked a joint at one of the frequent after-hours parties he held back at the estate.

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

Both princes have Royal Protection Officers, but their job is to protect their charges from danger rather than embarrassment.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has praised Prince Charles's "sensitive" handling of the affair.

Cannabis odour

He told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme the right action had been taken.

"The way that Prince Charles and the Royal family have handled it is absolutely right.

"They have done it in a very responsible and very sensitive way."

Asked how difficult the situation would have been for Prince Charles, Mr Blair replied: "I know this myself."

The prime minister's son Euan received a dressing down from police after being found drunk and incapable in London's Leicester Square in July 2000 when he was 16.

Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation centre, Peckham
Harry is said to have 'learnt a lot' at the rehabilitation centre
Prince Charles was reportedly alerted to Harry's behaviour by a senior member of Highgrove staff who noticed the odour of cannabis on Harry.

He sat down with Harry to discuss the matter, and then asked William to suggest his brother 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."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy told GMTV's Sunday Programme he hoped the publicity surrounding Prince Harry's actions could kick-start a sensible debate about relaxing cannabis laws.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jennie Bond
"The Palace say the matter is now closed"
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"
See also:

13 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Kennedy: Harry could prompt drug debate
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