How could Charles not have known? Scotland Yard says it WILL investigate offer of knighthood for donations to Prince of Wales’ charities in new shock for Palace a day after Andrew’s disgrace
- Prince Charles faces being interviewed by police over alleged ‘cash for honours’
- Scotland Yard has opened an inquiry into claims around ex-aide Michael Fawcett
- Fawcett allegedly offered to help Saudi billionaire to upgrade CBE to knighthood
- Royal sources have insisted the Prince of Wales was not aware of an alleged deal
- It comes less than 24 hours after Prince Andrew revealed sex assault settlement
Prince Charles faces being interviewed by police over an alleged ‘cash for honours’ scandal, it emerged last night.
Scotland Yard has announced an inquiry into claims surrounding his once closest aide, Michael Fawcett.
The bombshell for the royals comes less than 24 hours after the abject humiliation of Prince Andrew having to pay to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit.
The police probe follows a Mail on Sunday revelation that Mr Fawcett allegedly offered to help Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood – and support his application for British citizenship – in exchange for ‘generous’ donations to Charles’s charitable foundation.
Last night, royal sources were quick to insist the Prince of Wales had no knowledge of any alleged deal – and emphasised he would be willing to speak to detectives and help with their inquiry in ‘whatever way’ he could.
But the dramatic development threatens to drag Charles into a damaging saga in the lead- up to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations later this year.
Prince Charles faces being interviewed by police over an alleged ‘cash for honours’ scandal after his aide allegedly offered to help Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (pictured together) upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood in exchange for ‘generous’ donations to Charles’s charitable foundation
Last night, royal sources were quick to insist the Prince of Wales had no knowledge of any alleged deal involving his former aide Michael Fawcett (pictured) – and emphasised he would be willing to speak to detectives and help with their inquiry in ‘whatever way’ he could
The prince – who presented Mr Mahfouz with his honorary CBE title in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace and held private meetings with the billionaire at a string of British embassies – is likely to be asked by police what he knew of the claims against Mr Fawcett.
Ex-Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker, who filed a criminal complaint about the matter last year, yesterday said he found it ‘difficult to understand’ how Charles could have been completely ignorant of the affair.
News of the probe came only a day after it emerged that Prince Andrew had agreed to pay as much as £12 million to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts.
Royal sources last night told of ‘genuine shock’ in Buckingham Palace that the cash-for-honours probe had come ‘on top of the Andrew fall-out’, with one predicting: ‘I can only see this getting worse.’
The developments came as the Queen made her first public appearance since last week’s Covid scare – where she appeared to remark on her own frailty.
Welcoming the incoming Defence Services Secretary to Windsor Castle, the 95-year-old monarch – standing with a walking stick – pointed to her foot and said: ‘As you can see, I can’t move.’
The bombshell for the royals comes less than 24 hours after the abject humiliation of Prince Andrew having to pay to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit levied by Virginia Giuffre (pictured together)
The Queen at an audience at Windsor Castle today where she met the incoming and outgoing Defence Service Secretaries
Queen Elizabeth II with Rear Admiral James Macleod (right) and Major General Eldon Millar (centre) at Windsor Castle today
Insiders were quick to stress there had been, as yet, no formal request by the police to Charles for assistance in the cash-for-honours case, but suggested he would be willing to help with the investigation – including submitting to a formal interview.
A source added: ‘He would be happy to help in whatever way.’
Key moments in the tale of intrigue
April 2013: Fixers for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz ask for protocol for being awarded an MBE and UK citizenship.
May 2013: Mahfouz introduced to Ashe Windham, chairman of Castle of Mey Trust. He later donates £20,000 to the castle.
October 2013: Mahfouz fixer writes to Charles thanking him for an ‘entertaining and instructive’ private trip to the castle.
February 2014: Fixers receive confirmation of a meeting between Mahfouz and Charles for the following month. They meet at Clarence House.
April 2014: A Mahfouz fixer tells an assistant continued ‘friendship building’ with Charles will ‘lead to further very special personal and individual honours’.
April 2014: Michael Fawcett, Charles’s close aide, writes that the prince supports Mahfouz’s UK citizenship bid ‘100 per cent’.
September 2014: Minutes of a meeting show Fawcett agreeing to supervise Mahfouz’s citizenship application.
February 2015: Charles meets the sheikh at the British embassy in Riyadh.
November 2016: Mahfouz is awarded a CBE by Charles in a private investiture.
August 2017: Fawcett says the Prince’s Foundation would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help Mahfouz obtain a knighthood and British citizenship.
September 2021: Fawcett quits as chief of The Prince’s Foundation after August 2017 letter revealed by the Mail on Sunday.
December 2: Investigation ordered by the Prince’s Foundation concludes Fawcett did work with ‘fixers’ to secure honours.
February 16 2022: The Met launches an investigation into ‘cash-for-honours’ claims.
Charles is currently recovering from Covid but is poised to resume official engagements today presenting the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for higher and further education at St James’s Palace.
For the best part of four decades, Mr Fawcett was the man Charles famously could not live without. The 59-year-old former valet rose to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the future king’s court.
But he was dogged by controversy and was twice forced to resign after being accused of bullying staff and selling unwanted royal gifts. On both occasions he was reinstated and was later awarded a lucrative contract by the prince to organise most of his official and private entertaining.
In 2007, Mr Fawcett was made chief executive of Scotland’s Dumfries House, a stately home the prince helped save for the nation.
Then in 2018, following a reorganisation of Charles’s charities, Mr Fawcett became the £95,000-a-year chief executive of the newly created The Prince’s Foundation – to the concern of some household staff.
The cash-for-honours allegations centre around the conduct of Mr Fawcett and Mr Mahfouz’s donations to restoration projects of particular interest to Prince Charles.
The billionaire, who denies any wrongdoing, has given more than £1.5 million to The Prince’s Foundation, spent mostly on renovating two of Charles’s Scottish properties, where parts of the grounds are named after him.
Last September, a letter emerged that Mr Fawcett had written to Mr Mahfouz’s aide in 2017, in which he said: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for citizenship.
‘I can further confirm we are willing to make an application to increase His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.’
Mr Fawcett was forced to resign from the foundation over the revelations reported in The Mail on Sunday.
At the time of the claims, Prince Harry revealed he had cut links with Mr Mahfouz in 2015 because of ‘concerns over his motives’.
In December, a probe by auditing firm Ernst & Young into fundraising practices found there was some evidence of communication between Mr Fawcett and ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014 and 2018.
A spokesman for The Prince’s Foundation said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.’
A spokesman for Mr Mahfouz said he had ‘not had personal or direct communication to either request, influence or make any arrangements regarding citizenship or knighthood with Mr Fawcett, or anyone connected to HRH The Prince of Wales or the Prince’s Foundation’.
A spokesman for Mr Mahfouz said he had ‘not had personal or direct communication to either request, influence or make any arrangements regarding citizenship or knighthood with Mr Fawcett, (pictured, right, with Prince Charles, centre) or anyone connected to HRH The Prince of Wales or the Prince’s Foundation’
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