Prince William attracted some controversy earlier this week when he asked whether drugs should be legalised while on a visit to Spitalfields Crypt Trust.
“Can I ask you a very massive question – it’s a big one – there’s obviously a lot of pressure growing in areas about legalising drugs and things like that. What are your individual opinions on that?” Prince William asked three people who have benefitted from the Trust’s work.
“I know it’s a big question, but you seem like the key people to actually get a very good idea as to, you know, what are the big dangers there – what are the feelings?”
Heather Blackburn, one of the people he asked, said, “Most of the people I’ve known in recovery, 95% had massive trauma and terrible stuff happen to them and using drugs to cope, and then you get put in prison, you don’t get the facilities and the actual help you need, you get punished…it’s going to do even more harm, I think.
“You can’t just say, you know, ‘drugs are illegal’ or ‘now we can all go and do drugs’, because it doesn’t stop the fact we’re a nation of people hurting, and we can’t undo all that overnight. It takes a long period of time,” said Grace Gunn, a recovering alcoholic.
The third person questioned said that he didn’t think drugs should be legalised.
Prince William thanked the impromptu roundtable, saying, “Talking to you and being here it feels like a question I had to ask, I appreciate your honesty.”
While the Duke’s comments attracted controversy, it also drew comments from both sides of the debate.
Transform, a pro-legalisation pressure group, released a statement saying, “We are delighted that Prince William has the courage to ask one of the most crucial questions of our time.”
The Home Office also commented, “This Government has no plans to decriminalise drug misuse.”