Prince Harry’s drug use cited in push to release visa records by conservative US group

Jun 6, 2023, 1:52 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The past drug use that Prince Harry detailed in his explosive memoir should spark the release of his immigration paperwork, a conservative American think tank argued in a Washington court Tuesday as they appealed to a judge for a quicker response a records request the U.S. government has so far deemed private.

The hearing played out, coincidently, as the Duke of Sussex himself testified London in another lawsuit he filed against British newspapers. In Washington, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols told the Heritage Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security to work on the speed of the response, and he would rule if they could not reach an agreement on their own.

Harry moved to Southern California with his wife Meghan Markle and their young family in 2020 after they left royal life and embarked on new projects, including the release of his memoir “Spare” in January.

The book’s myriad revelations included an exploration of Harry’s grief after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, disputes with his brother William and his past drug use. Harry said he took cocaine several times starting around age 17, in order “to feel. To be different.” He also acknowledged using cannabis and psychedelic mushrooms.

The U.S. routinely asks about drug use on its visa applications, and it has been linked to travel headaches for celebrities, including chef Nigella Lawson, singer Amy Winehouse, and model Kate Moss. But acknowledgement of past drug use doesn’t necessarily bar people from entering or staying in the country.

With that history in mind, the conservative Heritage Foundation sent a public-information request to the Department of Homeland Security for Prince Harry’s immigration records.

They argue there is “intense public interest” in whether Harry got special treatment during the application process. The politically conservative group also linked those questions to wider immigration issues in the U.S., including at the southern border with Mexico.

“What this case is truly about is DHS,” said Samuel Dewey, a lawyer for the Heritage Foundation.

The request has largely been denied since the group doesn’t have Prince Harry’s permission to get the private information.

“A person’s visa status is confidential,” said John Bardo, an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security.

The agency’s policy does allow the release of information about issues of public interest, but the agency argued that media coverage of how Harry’s drug use connects to his visa status in the U.S. hasn’t been widespread among mainstream American publications.

The questions that have been raised, meanwhile, aren’t the kind of weighty queries about possible government misdeeds that warrant the fast processing the Heritage Foundation is asking for, federal attorneys argued.

A representative for Harry did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

While two of the three agencies involved have denied the request, Department of Homeland Security headquarters hasn’t formally responded and is fighting the foundation’s push to act quickly. Nichols expressed frustration at being asked to decide the narrow question whether to order a fast response, but said he would rule if the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on their own within a week.

Privacy is also at the center of the lawsuit Harry filed against the publisher of the Daily Mirror that was the subject of his testimony in London on Tuesday.

That suit is playing out thousands of miles away over 33 articles published between 1996 and 2011. He says they were based on phone hacking or other illegal snooping methods. Harry testified that Britain’s tabloid press had a “destructive” role throughout his life, but also faced sharp questioning from a newspaper’s lawyer about whether he could remember reading the articles.

United States News

Associated Press

Hawaii Army base under lockdown after man flees with handgun; no shots fired

HONOLULU (AP) — An Army base in Hawaii went into lockdown Thursday because of reports that a man with a handgun fled after getting into a scuffle while trying to talk to soldiers. No shots were fired, said Michael Donnelly, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. People at Schofield Barracks were told to shelter […]

22 minutes ago

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the chamber at the Capitol in Washingt...

Associated Press

McCarthy rejects Senate spending bill while scrambling for a House plan that averts a shutdown

A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dug in Thursday.

42 minutes ago

Associated Press

Navy issues written reprimands for fuel spill that sickened 6,000 people at Pearl Harbor base

HONOLULU (AP) — The Navy on Thursday issued written reprimands to three now-retired military officers for their roles in the spill of jet fuel into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water in 2021 but did not fire, suspend, dock the pay or reduce the rank of anyone for the incident. The spill from the Red Hill Bulk […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

California man who shot two sheriff’s deputies in revenge attack convicted of attempted murder

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A Compton man who shot and seriously wounded two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in a 2020 revenge attack as they sat in a patrol car was convicted Thursday of attempted murder and could face life in prison. Deonte Lee Murray, 39, also was convicted of carjacking, robbery and other charges […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Louisiana citrus farmers are seeing a mass influx of salt water that could threaten seedlings

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Commercial citrus growers have dwindled over the past few decades in south Louisiana, where farmers have had to battle hurricanes, flooding, invasive insects, freezes and drought to keep their groves alive. The latest hurdle comes from a slow-moving threat — a mass influx of salt water from the Gulf of […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle cop who made callous remarks after Indian woman’s death has been administratively reassigned

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer and union leader under investigation for laughing and making callous remarks about the death of a woman from India who was struck by a police SUV has been taken off patrol duty, police said. The Seattle Police Department confirmed Thursday that traffic Officer Daniel Auderer “has been administratively […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Mayo Clinic

Game on! Expert sports physicals focused on you

With tryouts quickly approaching, now is the time for parents to schedule physicals for their student-athlete. The Arizona Interscholastic Association requires that all student-athletes must have a physical exam completed before participating in team practices or competition.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

Prince Harry’s drug use cited in push to release visa records by conservative US group