Prince Charles’ charity is to be investigated by police over allegations that a Saudi billionaire was offered an honor in return for cash donations.
The new legal crisis for the royal family came one day after Prince Andrew‘s sex abuse lawsuit was settled out of court—and just as royal commentators were expressing relief that Queen Elizabeth II‘s platinum jubilee would not be overshadowed by Andrew’s links to the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The allegations that Michael Fawcett, who was chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation charity, had offered to help secure citizenship and a knighthood for a Saudi tycoon first emerged in September last year. In November, Fawcett resigned from the foundation.
On Wednesday the Metropolitan Police issued a statement that read: “The Metropolitan Police Service has launched an investigation into allegations of offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.
“The decision follows an assessment of a September 2021 letter. This related to media reporting alleging offers of help were made to secure honours and citizenship for a Saudi national. The Special Enquiry Team has conducted the assessment process which has included contacting those believed to hold relevant information.”
Norman Baker, a former U.K. government minister, wrote the letter lodging the first complaint with police in September 2021.
Following the police decision, he told Newsweek: “I’m delighted the Met Police have taken seriously the complaint I lodged with them in the autumn of last year.
“It seems to me on the face of it a case of offences being committed under the Honours Act of 1925, when there is a clear link in writing of an honour and money coming into the Prince’s Foundation. And that in a word is corruption.”
He added: “It is inconceivable Prince Charles did not know what was going on and I expect him to man up and take responsibility rather than trying to chuck his minions under the bus.”
Prince Charles has always maintained that he was not aware of any offers of help securing an honor or citizenship.
A Clarence House statement issued in September read: “The Prince of Wales has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the investigation now underway by the Prince’s Foundation.”
This internal investigation confirmed in December that “communication and coordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18.”
It came after The Mail on Sunday printed a letter that Fawcett had sent to an aide of the Saudi tycoon, dated August 17, 2017.
It read: “In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency, Sheikh Marei Mubarak Mahfouz 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 that 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.
“Both of these applications will be made in response to the most recent and anticipated support of the Trust and in connection with his ongoing commitment generally within the United Kingdom. I hope this confirmation is sufficient in allowing us to go forward.”
The Met Police statement confirmed that there had been “no arrests or interviews under caution” in its inquiry.
It added: “Officers liaised with the Prince’s Foundation about the findings of an independent investigation into fundraising practices. The foundation provided a number of relevant documents. These documents were reviewed alongside existing information. The assessment determined an investigation will commence.”
A spokesperson for the Prince’s Foundation said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.”