Prince Harry sent to rehab over drink and drugs

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The Independent Online

Prince Harry was sent to a drugs rehabilitation clinic after he admitted to smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol, it emerged last night.

His father, the Prince of Wales, sent his son to Featherstone Lodge Rehabilitation Centre in Peckham, south London. Prince Charles took the decision after learning his son had taken drugs during private parties at Highgrove, and had drunk alcohol at the nearby Rattlebone Inn in Sherston, reports said.

These incidents are reported to have happened last June and July when Harry was 16. It is believed that Prince Charles was alerted to the problem when a senior member of staff noticed a smell of cannabis. In the late summer, he visited the rehabilitation centre for what was intended to be a "short, sharp shock".

Bill Puddicombe, the chief executive of Phoenix House Treatment Service For Drug Dependency, confirmed Prince Harry's visit to the lodge. "The visit was at the request of the Prince of Wales, who is our patron," he said. "Prince Harry came for a couple of hours on a day in late summer and talked to several people in recovery, heroin and cocaine addicts mostly.

"They told him what had happened in their lives, which must have been quite harrowing for him. Prince Harry was friendly and relaxed and the residents liked him and responded very warmly to him.

"I spoke to the Prince in November and was pleased to hear that Harry had enjoyed his visit and learnt a lot.

"It was an opportunity for the Prince of Wales to teach Prince Harry about our work and the consequences of taking drugs. Featherstone has helped an enormous number of people, and we are pleased if the visit helped Prince Harry too."

Prince Harry was reportedly shown the residential and detox areas and sat in on a communal therapy group and heard stories of addicts moving from cannabis to cocaine and heroin.

A spokesman for St James's Palace said last night: "This is a serious matter which was resolved within the family, and is now in the past and closed." It is expected there will be widespread praise for the Prince of Wales's actions.

Prince Harry, now at Eton public school and planning to go to agricultural college after his A-levels, is the latest in a line of young aristocrats and politicians' children who have succumbed to drug taking. The Hon Nicholas Knatchbull, a godson of Prince Charles, was in a rehabilitation clinic last year. Camilla Parker Bowles's son, Tom and Lord Frederick Windsor have also admitted using cocaine. Tony Blair's son, Euan, was found drunk in Leicester Square in 2000 when he was 16.

The Mail on Sunday also reported last night that the prince was at the centre of a Police investigation into after-hours drinking at the Rattlebone Inn. He verbally abused a French employee and was ordered to leave the premises, the report said. The landlord, David Baker, left the pub within weeks of the incident.

The Prince of Wales was involved in an underage drinking episode when he was 14. During a school sailing trip, he led his four friends to the Crown Hotel on the Isle of Lewis. He asked for a cherry brandy, the first drink that came to his mind.

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