Prince faced 'every parent's nightmare'
LONDON, England (CNN) -- The heir to Britain's throne has won praise for the way he handled the revelation that his younger son smoked cannabis and drank while underage.
One leading addiction charity said on Sunday Prince Charles faced "every parent's nightmare" when 17-year-old Prince Harry confessed he had tried cannabis, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Charles reacted by sending his son to visit the Featherstone Lodge drug rehabilitation centre in southeast London to show him the dangers of drug abuse.
Bill Puddicombe, chief executive of Phoenix House UK, which runs the clinic, said Harry's visit lasted a couple of hours. "He was friendly and relaxed, and the residents received him warmly," he told CNN.
"The way we interpreted it was it was a piece of good, responsible parenting by Prince Charles," Puddicombe said, noting that Queen Elizabeth's eldest son was a patron of the Phoenix House, and attended the opening of the refurbished Featherstone Lodge in 1998.
Featherstone Lodge houses about 31 full-time residents who undergo intensive therapy for drug and alcohol addiction.
Puddicombe said he reported to Prince Charles in a conversation in November that the visit seemed to do Harry some good.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose eldest son was caught underage drinking, acknowledged it was a difficult situation, saying: "I know this myself."
Euan Blair, then 16, was found to be drunk and incapable in London's Leicester Square while celebrating the end of exams in July 2000.
"I think the way that Prince Charles and the Royal Family have handled it is absolutely right and they have done it in a very responsible and, as you would expect, in a very sensitive way for their child," Blair told the BBC.
It would be probably unrealistic for the story to be suppressed, Blair added.
Addaction, Britain's largest specialist drug and alcohol treatment agency, said Charles had set a good example by his sensitive handling of Harry's cannabis experimentation.
"I think it is every parent's nightmare that their child is going to get involved in drugs," Addaction's chief executive Peter Martin told the Press Association.
"It seems from what we know of the story that the Prince of Wales has acted with deep sensitivity and very quickly, which is exactly what is needed.
"He also introduced Prince Harry to people who his son could listen to. There is nothing like talking to somebody who has been through it.
"He has handled it very well indeed."
The incident would show that drugs can affect anyone and are not just a problem for the lower echelons of society, Martin added.
"Because this involves members of the royal family, this is going to send out a message to parents everywhere that drugs are not simply a matter for the homeless, or people who are disaffected, or come from a deprived family.
"Drugs and addiction to drugs cut across all class barriers."
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