Harry's friends are no strangers to drugs

Next in line » Many within the young prince's closest circle have spent time in rehab
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The Independent Online

Of course Prince Harry experimented with cannabis. He would have felt left out otherwise.

The young royal is the baby of a circle of royals and aristocrats who make the most of the temptations afforded to them by their wealth and privilege.

Harry seems to prefer the local pub at Highgrove to the ultra-hip bars and clubs favoured by his older brother and the fast-living old Etonians he likes to hang out with but both he and his elder brother William have enjoyed exuberant holidays in Rock.

The Cornish seaside village has become known as "Kensington-on-Sea" because of the "snob yobs" (as the local MP puts it) and girls who go there to surf all day and relax together at night.

Even before he was marched off to one by his father, Harry will have heard all about what the inside of a rehabilitation clinic is like from his slightly older friends and relations.

The Hon Nicholas Knatchbull, the great grandson of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a godson to the Prince of Wales, and Prince William's mentor at Eton, spent time at the expensive Farm Place in Surrey last summer. He was once arrested for possession of cannabis but released with a caution after assuring police that the drug was for personal use only. The 20-year-old was also treated in Arizona.

His parents, Lord and Lady Romsey, were later said to be keeping him under curfew at Broadlands, the Hampshire home where the Queen and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon. Nicholas will inherit the £100m estate one day and the title Earl of Mountbatten of Burma. He has been on holiday with the Prince William and Prince Harry several times.

In 1999, Tom Parker Bowles, 26, the son of Prince Charles' friend Camilla, was caught offering to supply cocaine to an undercover reporter while working for a film company at Cannes. The following year the Queen's 22-year-old cousin, Lord Frederick Windsor, was photographed spreadeagled on the floor at the London club House after attending a film premiere. He had already admitted taking cocaine, to the dismay of his mother Princess Michael of Kent.

Lord Freddie has worked as a male model and an investment banker but is now in the final year of a classics degree at Magdalen College, Oxford, and claims to have forsworn drugs.

It's not just the boys in Harry's extended circle who go a little too far occasionally. Tara Palmer Tomkinson, 30, famous as one of the "It Girl" socialites in the Nineties, was asked not to join a cruise with Prince Charles and the boys after it emerged she had been treated for addiction at the Meadows Clinic in Arizona. "I could never do just one line of coke and I could never have just a sip of champagne," she said. "I would drink the bottle." Her parents Charles and Patti are among the closest friends of Prince Charles, and Tara has taken a close interest in the development of the young princes.

The Meadows Clinic also helped Camilla's niece Emma Parker Bowles, 26, after she confessed to being an alcoholic who was fond of cocaine. She spent 35 days there. Emma was also addicted to valium, and is said to have attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Chelsea. Her father, Richard Parker Bowles, also fought alcoholism. "Drugs can affect everybody," he said. "It doesn't matter whether you are from Buckingham Palace or a council estate."

A short, sharp shock

Featherstone Lodge, the rehabilitation centre in South London where Prince Harry received his "short, sharp, shock", is run by Phoenix House, who operate treatment services in Sheffield, Tyneside, the Wirral, Glasgow and elsewhere.

* Phoenix House, a charity, is one of the best known rehabilitation organisations in Britain. It has more than 30 years experience of helping substance users and works closely with the courts, probation and health services.

* Their website says: "Our experience lies in working with drug and alcohol users who have a long history of problematic substance abuse and who often feel socially excluded from the community in which they live."

* The Prince of Wales is the charity's patron. He has visited some of their centres. After one visit, he said: "I particularly noticed the way the programme sought to address the residents' lack of self-esteem and to assist them to think of themselves as people with something to contribute to society."

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