Former Harpist to Prince Charles Admits Addiction to Heroin
Jemima Phillips, a 28-year-old harpist accused of committing a series of burglaries, has told Gloucester Crown Court that she was addicted to heroin while she was official harpist to Prince Charles.
Phillips, of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, denies four counts of burglary with co-defendant William Davies, 41, and one count of handling stolen goods. She said she knew nothing about the break-ins, which came as a “shock.” She has previously admitted to one count of fraud, when she tried to use a stolen checkbook at Nationwide bank in Monmouth.
Phillips, who played at Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles and was a semi-finalist in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year contest, allegedly stole cash and electrical goods from houses across Coleford, Gloucestershire, in May.
Phillips told the jury her younger brother died at an early age, and that she was bullied at school and has been in a series of abusive relationships. Phillips said she was “fortunate” to be asked to play for the Prince in 2004 and was appointed royal harpist in July that year.
“I took over as royal harpist,” she said. “Even then my drug problem had started. Sometimes I would just play background music at private functions, when I would be sat a few feet away from the Prince. Sometimes it would be concerts.”
She held the post until 2007, playing at the wedding of the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly.
Phillips told the court she had a series of “disastrous” relationships, her last being with Mr. Davies, of Cheltenham. She said she met Davies in January 2009 on a street corner in Gloucester, when he gave her a bag of heroin. She said she regularly met up with him to buy Valium from him to help her fight her habit, and in March they became a couple.
She also told the jury that her handicapped brother, Jerome (who suffered violent seizures from birth) died at the age of 13, when she was 14. She also said her sister, Genevieve, was autistic and had recently become quite violent.
Phillips, who graduated from the Royal College of Music, said her family life was “dysfunctional” and that she had been bullied “very badly” at school, although this stopped the day her brother died.
The court heard that Phillips started playing the harp at the age of eight and continues to play at concerts and recitals, as well teaching in local schools.
She told the jury the morning after the first alleged burglary on May 22 that Mr. Davies had handed her the checkbook and asked her to make the withdrawal. She said he told her she wouldn’t get in trouble and it was “safe”.
“I could see his Mr Hyde side coming out so I was a little scared,” she said, adding that she felt pressured by Davies and was worried their drug dealers would go to the press with details of her royal connections.
“When I first met Will he had one of my leaflets, it’s got photos of me and Prince Charles, he went ‘round telling his friends and the dealers about me,” she said.
“I was getting comments from those people like ‘say hello to Prince Charles for me’. I was worried about those people selling my story to the press, about my drug addiction.”
Two days later, Phillips and Davies allegedly took a guitar, cash, driving documents, bank cards, and a computer from a house in Lydney. The following day, they allegedly stole a wallet, bank cards, and two mobile phones from a house in Coleford. On May 28, they allegedly stole a TV, camera, two laptops, a wallet, and bank cards from a house in Milkwall near Coleford.
Davies has admitted five counts of handling stolen goods. Phillips admitted to the Nationwide fraud, but claims to know nothing of the burglaries. She added that she had been clean for two and a half months and is in therapy.