European Leaders

Political leaders around the world and from all different eras have been known to use marijuana for various purposes. European leaders are no exception to this rule; namely, Queen Victoria and Prince Harry of Wales. Both are (or were) important leaders who saw great changes in their country, and both are associated with the use of cannabis.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was the second longest serving British monarch (after Queen Elizabeth II), having served for 63 years between 1837 and 1901. Victoria inherited the throne at the mere age of 18 when King William IV died. She married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a German prince, in 1840. They had nine children together before his death in 1861.

When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria went into seclusion for a quarter of a century. He had died prematurely at the age of 42, and his death had a resounding impact on the nation (due in no small part of Victoria’s own grief). A decade after pulling away from the public eye, Victoria was fast losing public approval — until an assassination attempt gained her sympathy.

Great Britain’s industrial and infrastructure expansion during Queen Victoria’s time on the throne was greater than ever before. A network of underground sewers, railways, bridges, and a system of power distribution were all built during the Victorian years. Even science and technology took off, with inventions such as the telegraph and scientific research such as Darwin’s theory of evolution coming to light.

During Queen Victoria’s reign, Britain became the strongest trading nation on the planet. This led to social and economic changes, as well as general expansion and the industrial revolution. Exports grew by unprecedented quantities during the first ten years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Victoria’s children were married to various European powers, helping avoid great European wars during her time in power. Although she did not specifically have political power in foreign affairs (due to the British Constitution), she did keep her family — and therefore many powerful Europeans — under her rule.

Queen Victoria was so influential in England that the time period of her reign is known as a separate time period: Victorian England. Her personality and values go hand in hand with the mood and developments of the era during that time.

Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis tinctures during the 19th century, before it was considered taboo or illegal. This supposedly occurred in 1890 by Sir J. Russell Reynolds, the personal physician of Victoria, for the purpose of relieving her menstrual cramps. In The Lancet, a medical journal of the time, he wrote that cannabis “is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” In addition to being a physician, Reynolds was also a neurologist.

Victoria died at the age of 81 at the beginning of the year 1901. Edward VII, her son, succeeded her to reign as King of England.

Prince Harry of Wales

Prince Harry of Wales, the younger of the two sons of Prince Charles of Wales and the late Princess Diana, is known as a prince, a pilot, and a philanthropist. He was born in September of 1984 and is currently involved in a variety of charities.

Of course, Prince Harry was not always so mature and charitable. His younger years involve rebellion and some scandal, especially during his teenage years. When he was sixteen years old, while he was at Highgrove, Prince Charles’ country home, he experimented with marijuana at private parties with older teenagers. He also spent a lot of time at the Rattlebone Inn in Sherston, which is near Highgrove. Allegedly, marijuana was openly smoked there, and cocaine was available for purchase.

He admitted this (along with his heavy drinking habits) to his father, Prince Charles, who then brought him to a rehabilitation center called Featherstone Lodge. This center had been opened up by Charles himself in 1998, and it reportedly scared Harry into no longer drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or doing any other drug. The main concern of Prince Charles was the quantity and frequency at which he was smoking and drinking, rather than the simple fact that he was trying it as a teenager.

After his teenage years, Prince Harry went into the military in 2005. He trained for almost a year at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, then became a Second Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry. He served in Afghanistan for two months after some concern about his being a member of royalty serving in combat. In 2009 he started training to become an Apache helicopter pilot for the Army Air Corps. Once he finished the training, he went back to Afghanistan in 2012, where he worked in combat missions. In 2015 he finished his duties and now serves as a volunteer for wounded soldiers.

Most recently, Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William (along with his wife, Kate) have teamed up to form Heads Together. It is a campaign that aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health. Prince Harry’s own personal experience with mental health struggles in a center point for this campaign. In April 2017 he shared his own story after the death of his mother in hopes that others would feel more comfortable to seek help or talk about mental health more often.

Although he has had his share of scandals regarding cultural insensitivity, partying, and other issues throughout his childhood and adulthood, Prince Harry is now regarded primarily as a philanthropist. He supports 22 charities and 25 causes and was a co-founder of several charities. These charities include Sentebale, which helps orphans in Lesotho, and The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, which focuses on environmental conservation, sustainable development, supporting disadvantaged young people, and providing welfare to those associated with the Armed Forces.


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