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Larry King: 'Is Harry a hell-raiser?'

Prince Harry was sent to visit a drug rehab clinic after his cannabis smoking and underage drinking became known  

(CNN) -- On January 15, CNN's "Larry King Live" discussed the news that Britain's Prince Harry had smoked marijuana and drunk alcohol at age 16. Here is a transcript of that show:

LARRY KING: Tonight, he's the spare for the heir. And he's dabbled with drugs. Is Britain's Prince Harry a hell-raiser? The latest on Princess Di's two boys and palace problems that could tarnish the queen's golden anniversary.

Let's meet our panel. In London, Robert Lacey, the best-selling biographer and veteran royal watcher, his new book for the queen's Golden Jubilee is "Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II." The book was just out in Britain. It will be out in the United States in April.

In Washington, Kitty Kelly, the best-selling biographer, she wrote that book, "The Royals." Currently working on a book on the Bush family dynasty.

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In London is Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke's Peerage.

And in London, Philip Hoare, the biographer and social historian, working on a magazine piece about Princess Margaret. The news is that Prince Harry, this Sunday news broke that Harry had dabbled with drink and drugs this past summer when he was 16. After Prince Charles discovered what his younger son had been up to, he sent him to visit a drug rehab facility in London. Marijuana is illegal in Britain and the drinking age is 18.

Robert Lacey, the same question for all of you, we will start with you. What do you make of this story?

ROBERT LACEY, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think it's been very well handled by the royal family. I actually think in the -- given the recent history of the royal family this does not count as a disaster. I think actually quite the contrary. One of the things we are getting used to in Britain is giving up the old idea that the royal family has to be perfect. It's actually quite a model idea, a 20th century idea.

What we've seen with the news of Harry experimenting in the summer is that they are a family like any others and also that they can make mistakes and there's been quite a national debate here, which I myself think has been very fruitful about whether or not Prince Charles handled it well, how a parent should react and the royal family has been remarkably open in disclosing. There is an interesting comparison. Our prime minister's son fell down drunk in the street a few years ago and there's been a blackout about that. The royal family don't actually have that right to privacy.

KING: Kitty Kelley, what's your read?

KITTY KELLEY, AUTHOR, "THE ROYALS": Well, it is probably a parent's worst nightmare, the fear that your child will get involved in drugs of some sort. But I think there's been excessive publicity over it. The poor kid, if it was just experimentation, it's probably what you'd expect of a 17-year-old.

KING: So you think too much coverage?

KELLEY: Actually, the head of the press -- the press complaints commission is saying that it's a matter of public interest. I don't know. They set up rules a couple of years ago that the princes were off limits to the press. And there was an understanding that the press was going to give these two young men a chance, after their mother's death, to grow up with a certain amount of privacy.

But once the incident became public, it's now in the public domain, and so I guess he's fair game. I just have a problem with underage children. He's a minor. I know that he's third in line to be king one of these days, but he's still under age.

KING: Harold Brooks-Baker, what do you think?

HAROLD BROOKS-BAKER, BURKE'S PEERAGE: Well, I think the whole situation has, has Robert Lacey said, been handled very well by the royal family, especially Prince Charles and indeed Queen Elizabeth II. However, the members of the royal family who are in line to the throne cannot take the chances that our children and grandchildren would take.

The public eye is on them, and they are no longer able to be as princes were in the past, free from scrutiny. It's sad, and Robert Lacey also brought up the subject of the prime minister's son who was found drunk in Trafalgar Square a couple of years ago. That is something that a prime minister's son can do, but a monarch's grandchild cannot do.

The greatest problem here really is that since the beginning of time, the person who is second or third in line to the throne has no job. He's very much like the traditional vice president of the United States in years gone past. Nothing on his mind except the health of the president. These people should be given jobs, duties and briefed in case one day they actually have to take a throne, and you saw, sadly, what has happened to Princess Margaret, Prince Charles of Luxembourg and many others who were not prepared, but who were brilliant, loved, appreciated and their lives just fell apart. If this boy is not given a chance to have a significant role in life, it will be a disaster.

KING: Philip Hoare, what do you think?

PHILIP HOARE, SOCIAL HISTORIAN: I tend to agree with Howard there. It is a dangerous thing. I think it's an appalling thing that this came out anyway. I was very depressed when I saw the headlines, and was very depressed when I saw it break on the news.

I thought, and as Kitty mentioned, that we were supposed to have an embargo on this sort of thing. There is a suggestion today in the independent newspaper that there is actually something more behind this story and that some sort of deal was done between the palace and the News of the World that this story would be released in the way it has been.

I must admit I just found it very depressing that this poor chap, who has just really done what a lot of us have done in our teenage years in one way or another, suddenly is on the front of the newspapers. I think, yes, maybe there's been a good spin put on it and there is a serious debate to be had here, but I kind of don't think we should use someone of his age to launch that debate.

KING: Well said. Robert, why is it our business if a young 15-, 16-year-old boy does something wrong?

LACEY: Well, it's because this, like it or not, is the new function of the modern function of the royal family. If you are cynical, you will say that it's the national soap opera. I'd actually say, while agreeing with what everybody said about the strain and affects of this on a kid who is underage and indeed I think the last time we were all here we were talking about an American book which all of us thought here in Britain thought was revealing too much about William and Harry, and it's quite right there are all these rules in place.

But having said that, the kid did make a mistake. It's the same mistake we've all made. I myself am rather actually encouraged to find out that he's experimenting, that he's like ordinary kids. And to come back to the main point, whether we like it or not, one of the functions that the royal family plays in Britain is to act out ordinary human dramas on the big screen.

And I think this has been well handled in the circumstances, and that the national debate that has ensued and indeed the international debate has been very good for all of the identity societies involved.

VIDEO CLIP OF TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I think that the way that Prince Charles and the royal family have handled it is absolutely right and they've done it in a very responsible, and, as you'd expect in a very sensitive way for their child.

KING: That was Prime Minister Tony Blair. Kitty Kelley, do you agree with him? Have they handled this well?

KELLEY: Yes. I do agree with him. I think what Prince Charles did was terrific. He suggested to his son William to tell Harry to go to a drug addiction house and to meet with real addicts who could talk to him about not doing drugs and what's happened to their life.

And from the news reports, Prince Harry left that place feeling quite shattered. I do think it's quite interesting, Larry, something Philip said earlier about the way this story came to the public. We are talking about an example of Prince Harry during last June and July experimenting with marijuana more than once, being drunk on several occasions, drinking in a bar, drinking at private parties.

This never came out until last Sunday, and it came out through the News Of The World. And there is obviously palace cooperation with this tabloid that's given them so much grief in the past, and there would never be palace cooperation unless the tabloid had much more than they ran with. It's very interesting how the story came to our attention.

KING: But when you say something like that, Kitty, earlier you said we are putting too much attention on this young man. Now you imply there is something larger.

KELLEY: No. I do think we are putting too much attention on it. As a matter of fact, I think the British reporters that are chasing after the young man that he did drugs with, is a terrible thing. Nobody should be chasing after this young man who is 17 years old and already being accused in the public press as leading Prince Harry astray.

Yes, I do think that the publicity is helpful. It's just that if there are rules set up, where do you draw the line?

KING: Harold, what do you make of how well Prince Charles has dealt with this?

BROOKS-BAKER: Well, he's been extraordinarily gifted in the way he's handled it. I do agree with Kitty Kelley that there are almost certainly is more to this story than we've been given. That's the sad part of it.

The good part of it is that if you look at previous generations of princes in the last couple of hundred years in this country and, indeed, even more so on the continent of Europe, you will see that these people behave very, very well indeed.

The heir to the throne, the prince of Wales, is outstanding in his contributions to life and society through the prince's trust. He hires 60,000, 64,000 people who probably wouldn't have jobs if it weren't for him. And certainly his sons have behaved extremely well.

Prince William is an extraordinary person who, at his young age, is admired around the world and apparently has over 100 fan clubs throughout the western world. The fact that this fellow has fallen from grace is not surprising, but it pales to the activities of people like Edward VII , who participated in every debauchery known to man and died at a young age not too long after he took the throne. We are very lucky. The world is very lucky and the commonwealth, all 54 nations of the commonwealth are very pleased with this royal family.

KING: Philip, do you think this is the end of the press embargo on coverage of young princes?

HOARE: Terribly depressing if it is. I think the comparison with an older generation is very interesting between the queen and Princess Margaret because you do have this strange sort of nether world that the younger -- the younger son in William and Harry's case, is put into. And in a way, the problem is something about this coming out is that it is a blight on his career very early on in his life.

If that happens, one does worry about what will happen later. With Princess Margaret she had the terrible problem with the marriage proposal to Townsend. And I think the trouble is that the same thing could happen with this -- with Harry.

KING: Robert, what about the protection issue, the role of the young princes' body guards. Similar questions asked about the Secret Service role when the Bush twins had problems.

BROOKS-BAKER: Well, this is interesting. I would like to actually disagree with Philip there. I think this is not a great blight on his life. And I think he is now, actually, Harry, in a better position than William because William is considered as absolute perfection.

Again, I disagree with Harold. I mean, William is a young man. He's got all sorts of faults. We saw him the other day drive his horse at a photographer and push him into the ditch and utter a stream of four-letter words at the man. I think seeing these royal people as unduly perfect is difficult. Now you ask about the royal protection officers. They have been criticized here for saying, well, why didn't you tell your -- the prince, that -- Prince Charles, that is -- what's going on with his son?

Well, this is a human issue. Both young men are suspicious of their -- naturally, of these police officers who follow them around and stop them having a good time. These men apparently took the decision that if they were to sneak, that this would destroy their main function, which is to protect the princes. They didn't want the princes sneaking off to enjoy drink and drugs. It's better for them to be there.

It's a very difficult situation we actually saw, didn't we, when Diana was having an affair with Hewitt, the protection officer following them on their dirty weekends and walking down the beach behind them. Because their main job is not to be moral arbiters, strange as it may seem, but actually to protect these people's lives.

KING: The police have said, Kitty, that Harry will be treated exactly the same way as anybody else. Do you expect he might be charged with something?

KELLEY: No. Come on. This is the grandson of the queen. I don't think so. The rules are different for this young man. And I think that as far as the protection people go, I do agree with Robert. They are there to guard the corpus, as they say. They are not there to be Sunday school teachers and tell them what to do.

Although there were occasions last summer when Harry's protection people did drive some of his friends home after they had had a little bit to drink at that inn not so far from Prince Charles's house.

KING: Before we continue with our panel we'll spend a few moments with Bill Puddicombe, chief executive officer of Phoenix House UK. What is Phoenix House, Bill?

BILL PUDDICOMBE, PHOENIX HOUSE UK: Good evening, Larry. Phoenix House is an organization that works with people in the UK who use -- mostly use elicit drugs, heroin, cocaine, and so on. We run a number of residential programs, some programs in prisons and some programs working with people in their own homes.

KING: What is Prince Charles's connection with that group?

PUDDICOMBE: Prince Charles is our patron, so he supports us by visiting occasionally, by supporting our causes, sometimes through public events, and also financially.

KING: So when he knew about the problem with Harry, he brought Harry to, what, Featherstone Lodge? Is that one of your buildings?

PUDDICOMBE: That's correct. That's a building that we have in south London that accommodates people who are looking to stop using heroin and cocaine and other drugs. When Prince Harry came to see us, all we knew is that we were setting up a visit for the young prince to see one of the good causes that his father was involved in and also to see what the consequences of drug use can be.

KING: So you had no knowledge of Prince Harry's problems. What were your impressions of him during the visit?

PUDDICOMBE: We all liked him very much. He was terrific with the people that he met. He was -- he was able to walk into a room full of people who were going through the really tough end of recovery and handled the situation very well. He was interested in the people he met. He was interested to hear what sorts of lives the folk there were living. And as I say, we all liked him very much, and we felt the visit had gone well.

KING: In the United States, when they do visits like this, a lot of it is assumed to be a "scared straight" visit, that you take someone in and, hopefully, they see the results of their actions and it works to scare them. Do you think that was effective here?

PUDDICOMBE: Well, that wasn't -- that wasn't what we thought we were doing. But our experience is that for people who haven't visited a drug rehab before and haven't spent time talking with people about what happens when drugs start to control your life, it's usually pretty scary to find out about it. And I guess for a young person who, as is now -- as we now know has maybe started a bit of experimentation with some forms of intoxicants, to discover what the end process of -- the end of that process has been for other people, would certainly have given him some, you know, great pause for thought.

KING: The visit, Bill, was private. No press, no pictures. How did the story get out?

PUDDICOMBE: I have no idea. I have no idea, Larry. We've been cooperative because we feel it's a good story, in the sense of it -- it puts the issues about drug rehab in front of the public. But how it got out, I don't know.

KING: Do you favor the lessening of criminality laws regarding marijuana?

PUDDICOMBE: I try not to have a view on it, but I know that there are a number of different views here about that. I think it was interesting yesterday afternoon, some of our service users, some of the people who are going through rehab, were talking to the press. And the press asked them whether they thought -- whether they thought cannabis should be decriminalized or whether the law should be reduced, and they all said no.

KING: Bill, thank you for that information. Bill Puddicombe, chief executive officer of the Phoenix House UK.

PUDDICOMBE: Thank you.

KING: OK, Harold, based on what Bill said, how did that story get out? You know the British press. How -- how did anybody learn of this? Harold, do you hear me? OK. Harold doesn't hear me. Philip, did you hear me? Do you know how the British press found out about this visit?

BROOKS-BAKER: I did. I don't know how they found out about the visit. But the story, it seems, was possibly coming from -- supposedly from friends of Harry's ringing up the newspapers. Who can tell? Who can tell where those things come from? It is -- it is strange how it's come out. The fact is that it is out there now, and they have to sort of deal with the fallout. It's a difficult question.

KING: Robert, what are your thoughts on this story getting out and the effect of the prince taking his son there?

LACEY: I don't think it is that strange. I mean, it's obviously a talking point. Prince Harry out in the country there in Gloucestershire, goes around pubs under age, has been seen by lots of people. In a way, it's surprising it hasn't been come out before.

As I understand it, Bill's charity was contacted by St. James's palace and was told it was all right to talk about this because, obviously, it would have normally have been considered...

KING: Yeah.

LACEY: ... confidential. There is a thought here, a different thought. I mean, there is the sinister thought that it was being brought out to hide something worse. I don't know whether that is the case or not. What I do know is the case that I think it was considered in St. James's palace, which, of course, is in Charles's -- Prince Charles's headquarters, as opposed to Buckingham Palace, which is the queen's -- that this story was bound to come out some time, and it's better that it should come out before the jubilee year of Harry's grandmother, the queen, begins in February, and that as a piece of news management, it's better to get the news out now and handle it in the way it has.

What's interesting is The News of the World, who was spearheading the whole exposure, actually ran an editorial which said that what this shows above all is what an excellent parent Prince Charles is. And so the whole thing, it seems to me, has been very well spun.

KING: Let's take some calls. Richmond, Virginia, for our panel. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. I would like to know how Prince William counseled his brother about this.

KING: Do we know -- Philip, do we know how Prince William dealt with it with Harry?

HOARE: I think he told him he was being rather stupid in probably less polite terms. I think William is -- William is very well aware of all these dangers. I mean, William -- because he is that much older, is certainly in contact with worlds in which drug use happens. Certainly, William would know the dangers of that and would also know the dangers of drinking. So -- well, we do know that, yes, he -- a short, sharp ...

KING: Kitty...

HOARE: ... retort, I think.

KING: ... do we know of any problems in William's young days?

KELLEY: No, not really. We really don't. But one thing those two young men have learned and learned the hard way is that they have no friends, that the people surrounding them are constantly on the telephone, calling papers like News of the World to report what is being done. And that's how the story finally came out.

KING: Bridgewater, New Jersey. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is for you and the executives mostly at CNN, as well as your panel. I'm just wondering why, after the events of September 11th, you think this topic is so newsworthy.

KING: Well, why are -- Kitty, I'll ask you as an American, why are the royals news?

KELLEY: Because they're still a monarchy that's in place, and they seem a throwback to old times. I think the question is very good. It's a distraction for us from the events of September 11th. But the royal family plays a very important role in many people's lives, and I think there are many people who are fascinated by it.

KING: Harold, is that interest still true in Great Britain, at the level it's been?

BROOKS-BAKER: Well, I think that things change constantly. But certainly, the queen, who is head of the commonwealth and is head of state in 16 countries of those 54 countries, remains one of the most important heads of state in the world today. She has far more power than most people realize, but she uses it in a very judicious way. No question that there are not many other people in the world who have the importance that she has, and that's why there is this emphasis on the close members of her family.

It certainly is unfair, but life isn't fair. As the Americans say, good guys don't win ballgames. And I think that Prince Harry needs to be given a full-time job as soon as he finishes his studies and be prepared for the chance that he one day might be king, and not just sit and wait, as poor Princess Margaret has and as many other members of royal families around the world have, with absolutely nothing of importance to do, as far as politics is concerned.

KING: Philadelphia, hello.

BROOKS-BAKER: This is a difficult role.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: I wanted to ask you, what does your panel feel that Princess Diana would make of all this?

KING: Kitty?

KELLEY: I think Princess Diana would be very, very upset. But I do think she'd be very proactive and she'd do exactly what Prince Charles did. She'd have Prince Harry working at every drug addiction clinic in the place.

KING: Do you agree, Robert?

LACEY: Yes. But of course, Diana was famous for taking her boys to AIDS hospices and to take them -- and bring them in contact with the more difficult side of life. She was also actually a much stricter parent -- it's not generally realized -- than Charles. I mean, when they were young, she'd clip them 'round the ear, to use an English expression. I mean, she was not afraid to threaten them with a good smack.

Charles has been always a softer sort of parent. And this, I think, perhaps derives, if one's going to speculate, from the fact that he was brought up quite briskly by his own parents and is therefore more indulgent. But I think in this, Diana would have done exactly what Charles has done. And I think a lot of the approval now accruing to Charles comes because people see it as being in the Diana mold.

KING: Lewiston, Montana. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Larry, I wanted to know, does Prince Harry have anyone that he's close to? He was so close to his mother. And does he have any female mentor in his life now that he can visit with and feel he can trust?

KING: Good question. Philip, do you know?

HOARE: Yes, he does. He has -- I mean, I think he's probably actually quite close to Camilla now. I think she's -- I think that's quite a good relationship and quite a stable relationship.

It's very -- it's important to realize this is a boy who lost his mother at a young age. And you know, I mean, yes, he was doing drink and drugs, but, you know, a lot of people have reacted in that way to grief. You know, we have to put these things in context.

So a good question, and I think, you know, he does need that stability. I think Charles gives it to him. But Charles is, after all, a professional person who is busy and cannot be with him all the time. So I think the lack of a stable figure in Harry's life is something which is possibly behind this story.

KING: Harold, are there still tensions between Prince Charles and Prince Edward over Edward's doing that documentary TV series?

BROOKS-BAKER: No. I think you would overestimate this if you looked at it too carefully because, certainly, the disagreement is well known, and the company that Prince Edward is head of has not behaved very well at one time. But no, there is only love and appreciation, and certainly, these things can be overemphasized.

The royal family is under a magnifying glass the whole time. Every single member is looked at from night until morning, and they simply must have a chance to escape from time to time, just as all of us do, and rest from this intrusion. I mean, the intrusion never stops. And after all, they have jobs to do. They have to be holier- than-thou, but they also have to be able to rest from time to time.

And I think that you'll see that the newspapers of this country, after the News of the World, are going to be less difficult in their day-to-day lives unless something really goes wrong.

And there is far more to this story than has been revealed. And I think that Kitty Kelley has really hit the nail on the head by examining that aspect of it. And that is what really worries me, that newspapers have that kind of power today. After all, the News of the World is not the Times. It is not The New York Times or The Washington Post. It is a paper that specializes in digging the dirt on others. It's ruined the lives of more politicians than any newspaper in the United Kingdom. And I'm certain that poor Prince Harry is in for it, if he makes one wrong move in the next few years. And that's a difficult position.

KING: Scottsdale, Arizona. Hello.

CALLER: I'd like to know if the liquor laws are strictly enforced in the countryside in England at these pubs.

KING: Robert?

LACEY: Much less strictly enforced than in America. It's not -- I mean, people worry about this, but it's not a social issue to the degree that it is in America. You don't have this whole business of IDs and that sort of thing. And thus, it's really quite common for -- you know, Harry is certainly underage, but he's a big strapping kid of over six foot tall. It's quite common to see teenage kids in pubs who are clearly under age. Nobody asks too many questions. And rightly or wrongly, it's not a matter of great concern.

KING: Philip, Princess Margaret seems to be the saddest of the royals. Is that correct? I know you're doing a magazine piece on her.

HOARE: She's had a remarkable life. She's had a lot of disappointments in her life. I think the key, really, to Princess Margaret is really what Harold was talking about earlier, the lack of a role. She never really had a role. She resents that and has resented it. I think she resented it even from the very beginning, when she really didn't receive the same education as her sister, which is a big problem. And I know she's said this to people close to her, that she's resented that fact that she wasn't educated and she wasn't given the same chances.

She hasn't been able to blossom there. Princess Margaret's great retort when asked, you know, what she does, is, "My duty is to help the queen." And this does have a bearing to the current question. What will Prince Harry's retort to that question -- "What's your -- what's your relationship to Prince William, King William?" Same thing.

KING: All right. This -- Kitty, this is incredibly boring life, isn't it, for someone like this? You do nothing.

KELLEY: Well, Larry, there are a lot of people who would like the palaces and the yachts and the open entree and the parties and the glamour of it all. But I do agree that a life without any kind of expectation or worthy work, without a sense of responsibility, is quite sad.

And Princess Margaret is a very smart woman. She probably is, IQ-wise, smarter than the queen. But she never got the education that Elizabeth got. There were no expectations for Margaret. And yet, at the time that she could have opted out and married Group Captain Peter Townsend, she said no. She did not want to give up her title. She did not want to give up her royal allowance, her palace or anything else.

KING: So she made the decision.

KELLEY: She made the decision.

KING: How do you think -- Harold, how do you think Prince Harry is going to come out?

BROOKS-BAKER: I think he'll come out of it very well indeed. The problem here is that this has happened generation after generation. George VI, the queen's father, was in a similar position. He wasn't prepared to be king when the Duke of Windsor, as he became, went off to France. And if it hadn't been for the Queen Mother, who, thank God, is still with us, it would not have been a very good act.

He was an outstanding king, a much-loved king, but he certainly would not have been without the Queen Mother guiding him all the way. She taught him how to speak. He could hardly utter a word, certainly couldn't speak in the beginning on the BBC. She taught him to review troops. He had practically a nervous collapse every time he did it in the beginning. And he died being loved, respected, stayed in London with the Queen Mother during the Blitz.

This is what can come of the right tutoring. Everything now depends on whether Prince Harry is given the right tutoring and the right job to follow, so that he has a full life and is not just sitting, waiting on the health of his brother and his father. This is a tragedy that must not repeat itself.

KING: Philip, how do you think Prince William will turn out?

HOARE: I think he could turn out very well. He has a wide range of interests, which is, quite honestly, heartening because -- I like the fact he's doing history of art at university because sometimes one of the great allegations made against the royal family is the sense of Philistinism. You know, they're not really very cultured. So it's good, I think, that he's expanded his interests in that way.

I think having that wide range of interests means he will be able to speak to a new generation. And that's so important. That's what he's going to have to do. And I think, you know, like his father, he is sensible. I think, you know, he will learn by his mistakes. There are going to be mistakes. He's going to face an awful lot of problems when it comes to marrying. It's just something he's going to have to ride through.

KING: I thank you all very much for an illuminating hour. Appreciate your being with us. Robert Lacey, Kitty Kelley, Harold Brooks-Baker and Philip Hoare, Kitty in Washington, Robert, Harold and Philip all in London.


• Prince faced 'every parent's nightmare'
January 13, 2002
• Diana butler sent for trial
January 10, 2002
• Royal row over William film crew
September 27, 2001
• Palace: UK prince smoked cannabis
January 13, 2002

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