Prince Harry’s Admitted Drug Use To Be Probed in Court Amid Questions Over His Visa Application

Did the royal, who calls drugs ‘fundamental’ to his life, get special treatment from the Biden administration to receive a visa, Heritage Foundation asks.

Jordan Pettitt/PA via AP
Prince Harry arrives at the Royal Courts Of Justice, at London, March 27, 2023. Jordan Pettitt/PA via AP

On Tuesday, before a federal district court judge, Carl J. Nichols, President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security will face questions over how Prince Harry obtained a visa despite his own admissions of illegal drug use that disqualifies applicants under American law. 

The Immigration and Naturalization Act states that visa applicants who “admit to having committed acts that constitute the essential elements of a violation of any law or regulation of a state, the U.S., or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance are inadmissible.”

In March, the Heritage Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Harry’s visa application to discover the terms of his stay and if he made misstatements about drug use on official forms or received a special waiver under the table, as I wrote in the Sun at the time.

In his memoir, “Spare,” Harry describes using marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and cocaine. Asked about this in an interview, he called the use of plant-based psychedelics “one of the fundamental parts” of his life. 

“I started doing it recreationally and then started to realize how good it was for me,” Harry said, adding that the mind-altering substances “changed me and helped me deal with the traumas and pains of the past.” Thus he could find it difficult to argue that he’s a casual user or that the behavior is in the past.

“The duke of Sussex’s acknowledged drug use,” as I wrote in the Sun, “plus his politicking and working without a visa, would get someone less connected and lower profile kicked out of the country,” yet Harry comes and goes as he pleases. 

The director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at Heritage, Nile Gardiner, told me that the think tank “has for many decades been the leading voice in Washington calling for the enforcement of immigration laws and for strong and robust border controls.” 

The Biden administration, Mr. Gardiner said, is “basically arguing that this is a privacy matter for Prince Harry,” but previous administrations have “released immigration records where there was deemed to be a public interest,” which Heritage will argue is the case for the duke. 

Harry, Mr. Gardiner notes, “is a huge public figure” worldwide. “He’s also increasingly, in many respects, someone who maintains a very big, active public profile in America on various causes and so, this idea that his privacy has to be respected, it just doesn’t carry weight.” 

“The United States,” Mr. Gardiner said, “is a country that is supposed to be based on the foundations of equality before the law — fairness, equal opportunity — and if Harry has been given favors in terms of his immigration application or if he has been given a special pass or waiver, then the public has a right to know.” 

The national interest in transparency, though, may run contrary to that of the White House, since, Mr. Gardiner suspects, documentation released through FOIA “may also reveal any involvement by senior U.S. officials in terms of the handling of the application” Harry submitted.

Setting up residence is a complicated legal process, which is why people from around the world who follow the law — professional athletes, say, like an NHL player, Curtis Lazar, who waited eight days for a visa after being traded to New Jersey from Vancouver — have a keen interest in learning if Harry received royal treatment.

Mr. Gardiner cited a Newsweek poll that found 54 percent of American adults want Harry’s visa application to be reviewed after publicizing his drug use, noting that noncitizens and “large numbers of immigrants in the United States really care about the proper enforcement of the law.”

Foreign residents and visitors, Mr. Gardiner said, “have gone through the process. They want to see the law applied fairly. Many have gone through years and years of the legal process of applying for a visa, and no one should be treated as above the law or given preferential treatment.”

Heritage seeks Harry’s visa documents, Mr. Gardiner said, “to ensure that immigration law is applied equally, fairly, and without preference,” but so far, he finds the Biden administration “stonewalling” and its responses “extremely disappointing and frivolous.”

Tuesday’s court date at Washington, D.C., will be an opportunity to begin getting answers and to remind the world that, as Mr. Gardiner put it, “acquiring a U.S. visa is not a right, it’s a privilege,” a fact that holds for paupers and princes alike.

The New York Sun

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