Kate took the unusual step of seeing first-hand what life is like for addicts behind bars

By Simon Perry
September 25, 2015 07:30 AM
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty

Princess Kate has visited a women’s prison in England to highlight how the problems of addiction can lead to crime.

The royal mom, 33, who has made it her mission to speak up for those who are vulnerable in society, gave her heartfelt thanks to the prisoners she met on her secret visit to the detention center about 30 miles southwest of London early Friday. She wore a $550 dress by The Fold in subdued winter white tweed.

“I was reminded today how addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues and how substance misuse can play such destructive role in vulnerable people’s lives,” she said in a statement.

“I saw again today that a failure to intervene early in life to tackle mental health problems and other challenges can have profound consequences for people throughout their lives.”

And she thanked those who had spoken with her inside Send Prison, near Woking.

“I am grateful to the women I met for sharing their difficult personal stories with me. It is encouraging to learn how organisations… are offering specialist support to help people break the cycle of addiction and look forward to a positive and crime free life.”

In a visit that was previously unheralded – Kensington Palace even asked that the media keep quiet until she left – Kate arrived at the prison to meet with inmates struggling with addiction as well as leaders of a charity that aims to support them.

The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt) works in 26 prisons in the U.K. to help treat addicts in hopes of lowering incarceration and crime rates.

The charity set up the first 12-step plan for women prisoners in 2000 at HM Prison Send in Woking, where Kate visited.

The move dovetails with the work she does with the charity Action on Addiction, of which she has been a patron and very active supporter since 2012.

“She is aware that addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues,” Kensington Palace said in a statement, “and the destructive role that substance misuse plays in vulnerable people’s and communities’ lives.”

Half of all prisoners in the U.K. are thought to have committed crimes associated with drugs, while alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all violent crime, official figures show.

Inside, Kate listened as prisoners recounted their personal stories.

“I believe that I was born an addict and can honestly say that RAPt helped to save my life,” said a former inmate identified by the charity as Lacey, who completed the program in 2008 and is now married and expecting a baby: “This is a life beyond my wildest dreams.”

Another former inmate, identified as Kirsty, said, “When I first started the program, I found it really hard to be vulnerable. But I put the work in and I’m so glad I did – I now know that anything I want to achieve is only going to be earned through honest work.”

The morning “reflects the Duchess’s interest in learning how organizations support people living with substance misuse issues, and the impact of addiction within the wider family network,” the palace statement adds.

Members of the royal family periodically go to prisons to enhance various charitable connections. Kate’s father-in-law Prince Charles, 66, visited an institution in the north of England earlier this month. His wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 68, has also been behind bars to see rehabilitation and literacy programs.

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