Decriminalising drugs? William talks with recovering addicts & jokes he’ll see midwife ‘soon’

During a visit to Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT) today, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge spoke about decriminalising drugs with recovering addicts helped by the charity. He also spoke with a trainee midwife, joking he’ll see her ‘sooner than you think’, with his third child due in the Spring.

Prince William visited the charity that helps people recover from addiction and homelessness. Speaking to three former addicts n Spitalfields, the Duke said: “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 speaks with recovering addicts, asking their views on decriminalising drugs (kensington palace)

“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, 49, said that she thought the legalisation of drugs was “a good idea” and that money was wasted on “drug laws”.

The Liberal Democrat’s most recent General Election manifesto called for the legalisation of cannabis so that it could be sold in a regulated market.

Last year, a report from the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health suggested that the “war on drugs” had failed, and that criminalising drugs lead to greater long-term harm, as drug users were excluded from employment and education, as well as exposing them to more drugs in prison.

the duke of cambridge chats to those who use recovery pathway in Shoreditch (kensington palace)

Portugal has decriminalised the use of drugs – at least, it has stopped criminally prosecuting users, treating drugs as a misdemeanour; such an offence is in line with illegal parking today, but dealing is still a crime. In the 1990s, 100,000 people were severely addicted to drugs, in a population of less-than 10 million, and HIV rates were higher than other countries. The number of drug addicts who have undergone rehab has increased dramatically, while the number of addicts who have become infected with HIV has fallen significantly, according to ‘Der Spiegel‘.

Blackburn added: “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.

“Which is not going to help anyone taking drugs, it’s going to even do more harm I think.”


“So prison doesn’t tackle the root cause of why someone is taking drugs?” William asked.

She replied, “No, it just punishes what you’ve done, not the reasons why.”

Recovering alcoholic Grace Gunn told the royal guest: “There are still drugs in prison, you can’t eliminate that fact that people do get drugs into prison.”

The trainee midwife also said: “But I’m a true believer people who end up in these places, we’re damaged people. Whether that’s through trauma or our relationship with parents or family or carer, and I think one thing to start the process, there has to be money in mental health therapy.

“You can’t have two-year waiting lists for trauma therapy – I’ve been waiting five years.”

“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 the 19-year-old.

Transform, a think tank, which campaigns for the regulation of drugs, praised the Duke for his words. “Transform is delighted that Prince William has the courage to ask one of the most crucial questions of our time. Going where angels fear to tread, the Prince is asking the hardest question in an area that has been tragically neglected by our most senior politicians.”

“Like the end of Alcohol Prohibition in the US, legalisation would better protect the most vulnerable people in society by putting government, not gangsters in control of the drug trade,” they argue.

This coffee shop offers employment to those who are recovering from addiction and were visited by Prince william today (kensington palace)

As William left, he said to Ms Gunn: “All the best with the midwifery – might see you sooner than you think,” and thanked the group for their honesty, adding it was ‘very interesting’ to hear from them having used drugs regularly.

SCT offers a homeless drop-in centre, as well as providing a personal development and training centre where students can learn life skills. They have been helping those in need for 50 years, beginning as the country’s first residential rehabilitation centre for homeless men suffering from alcoholism.

Working with a coffee and bookshop company, Paper and Cup, SCT enables those in recovery to start working again, and the Prince chatted to those involved whilst enjoying a cup of tea.

The duke of cambridge tries out a restored chair during his visit; ‘You could definitely have a little nap in this’ he said (kensington palace)

Furniture restoration is also undertaken by recovering addicts; William got to see their work and even try it out, by sitting on a colourful chair. “You could definitely have a little nap in this, very nice,” he joked.

The future King was given three wooden owls from the workshop – one each for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the royal baby.

Share this

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.