Revelations from the Times, this Sundayhad the effect of a small bomb in the United Kingdom: according to the British daily, Prince Charles is the subject of an investigation relating to 3 million euros in cash received from a Qatari sheikh.
What are we talking about ?
The Prince of Wales is being investigated by the Charity Commission (a state body charged with monitoring charity transactions) for accepting three cash payments from the emirate’s former prime minister.
This money would have gone to fuel “legally” Prince of Wales Charity Fund accounts.
Legal payments? Still, the description of the facts shows an image of the heir to the British throne in a particular light.
How much money is at stake?
The first time, according to the Times, the money reached the prince “stowed” in a bag from the prestigious London brand Fortnum & Mason. Inside, 20 bundles of 100 500 euro notes.
Not better the second time: the same sum, arrived this time in a suitcase, still from the sheikh, Prime Minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 2013.
The prince accepts another million euros in cash in 2015, delivered this time… in a sports bag, during an appointment at Clarence House, his official London residence.
What does the royal family say?
Bags and suitcases filled with large bills from a controversial man… in public opinion, the image shows the prince in a less than stellar way.
The Sunday Times revelations were not denied by the royal family, on the contrary: Clarence House quickly assured that all this was “legal”, and that all this money was “immediately donated to charity carried by the Prince of Wales “.
Our auditors validated the donation after a specific investigation. There were no governance failures. The donation was made in cash, and it was the choice of the donor
Ian Cheshire, Chairman of the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund
Why is this controversial?
Indeed, “nothing indicates that these payments would be illegal”, concedes the Sunday Times. Before wondering, all the same, about the image given and possible counterparties: “These new revelations will raise serious questions about the personal judgment of the heir to the throne – including what he knew about the money, and on his impartiality as Britain’s representative on the world stage,” writes the Times.
“Charles, continues the British daily, is regularly responsible for communicating the country’s foreign policy and its position on issues such as human rights”. And to recall that the heir “visited several times in Qatar, after having accepted the money of the sheikh, including during the mandate of the sheikh”.
Why is the Sheikh controversial?
Then in office, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani controlled Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, or about 250 billion dollars (237 billion euros).
In this capacity, he has notably invested in several emblematic sites in the United Kingdom, such as the luxury brand Harrods, the famous Shard skyscraper, and the Olympic village in London. Over the course of his investments, he had already offered Prince Charles a horse worth nearly 150,000 pounds sterling, while maintaining one of his castles in Scotland.
But during his various mandates, he is also accused of having “covered up” the financing of terrorism by Qatar. He had not ruled out that his country could have financed the al-Nusra Front, named after the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.
The name of the sheikh, owner of a very luxurious 132-meter yacht estimated at 300 million dollars, was also appeared in 2016 in the revelations of the Panama Papers, on tax evasion, before being cited during the scandal of the Paradise Papers, during other revelations on tax havens.
The police and the Charity Commission were already investigating controversial practices at Clarence House, such as “cash for access”, consisting of exchanging an interview with the prince for financial donations, or even the “sale of honors”.
The Prince of Wales’ willingness to accept large sums of money from controversial foreign politicians or businessmen plunges the heir to the throne into troubled waters
Tom Bower, investigative journalist, in the Mail on Sunday
He recalls that in 2021, already, the closest collaborator of Prince Charles had offered a Saudi billionaire a distinction in exchange for a huge charitable donation.
And Tom Bower concludes: “At best, Charles failed to control what was done in his name. At worst, he was an accomplice. It is no exaggeration to say that the succession to the throne could be in danger” with these successive revelations.