Princess of Wales meets drug sniffer dog and sports bandaged fingers during prison visit

Kate sat on a chair and was checked by Penny, a black Labrador

The Princess of Wales was sniffed by a drug detection dog when she made a surprise visit to a prison – sporting strapped-up fingers after a trampoline accident.

Kate sat on a chair and was checked by Penny, a black Labrador, as she followed security protocols at HMP High Down in Surrey to gain an understanding of the procedures followed by families and friends visiting inmates.

The forefinger and middle finger of her right hand were taped together after an accident Kensington Palace described as a “a small injury, nothing serious”.

Kate is patron of addiction charity The Forward Trust and visited the Category C prison in Sutton to learn about its work helping prisoners recover from addiction.

The trip on Tuesday came ahead of Addiction Awareness Week in October. Credit: PA

She joked about her injured fingers, telling a couple it was her own fault as she had been “jumping around on the trampoline” and said the strapping was to keep her digits safe.

As she went through an entrance used by around 2,000 visitors a month, she was shown the reaction of black Labrador Penny when something is found.

Kate said: “Amazing. It’s incredible, it’s very calm and controlled. It’s not intimidating.”

The trip on Tuesday came ahead of Addiction Awareness Week in October, with this year’s theme Everybody Knows Somebody aiming to highlight the range of people in society affected by the issue.

Kate greeting staff upon her entrance at HMP High Down

The princess, wearing a blue suit and matching blue heels, also met serving prisoners receiving support for their addiction at High Down before visiting the prison’s award-winning restaurant, The Clink.

She spoke with inmates being trained in hospitality, complimenting them on the “delicious” looking food and meeting families working with The Forward Trust.

Richard Stephenson, who was a client of The Forward Trust more than 20 years ago and recovered from his own addiction, was there with his family to meet Kate.

The NHS service manager, known as Steff, said: “It’s really important people from different genres take interest and ask questions.

Kate met staff at security. Credit: PA

"It’s about believing people can change… I’m a professional now. It’s really important to come from that and meet someone who may be a future queen.”

Mark Ash, an ex-inmate of HMP High Down who has recovered from his addiction and works with The Forward Trust to support others, also spoke with Kate.

He welcomed seeing someone in a high-status position highlighting addiction, adding: “When someone like Kate puts herself on that platform people are going to listen because she’s the Princess of Wales.

“It’s honourable of her to want to step in.”

She spoke with inmates being trained in hospitality. Credit: PA

Kate became a patron for The Forward Trust in 2021 when the charity merged with Action on Addiction, which was one of the first charities she became a patron of in 2012.

The trust works in 25 prisons across the UK, helping people address issues including substance misuse, mental health, housing and employment for those leaving prison, and improving relationships with friends and family, including children.

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