Throughout August and September, there were easily a dozen major stories involving Prince Charles’ shady financial practices when it came to donations to his charities and foundations. As I said at the time, I actually found the initial stories somewhat reasonable, just because that’s how I assume all foundations work, especially when those foundations are associated with one primary royal or celebrity. Of course shady millionaires and billionaires are going to give large sums of money with the understanding that they will get access and face time with the primary royal/celeb. Charles’ issue was that his practices crossed over from “tacky” to something involving a criminal access/lobbying scheme. Charles wasn’t simply selling access to himself in exchange for donations, he was selling government lobbying, knighthoods and British citizenships. I guess Charles was tired of being the only one in it, because the Times has a curious story about how Prince Harry also met with a Saudi billionaire a few times?
The Duke of Sussex has been drawn into the “cash for access” scandal involving his father as new evidence shows he held a private meeting with a Saudi billionaire while seeking further donations for royal charities. Prince Harry agreed to see Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz after he gave £50,000 to his charity and hinted he would give millions more.
The pair met at a pub in Chelsea, west London, owned by Mark “Marko” Dyer, a former royal equerry known as Harry’s “second father”, who brokered the introduction in 2013. They discussed Sentebale, the charity Harry founded after his gap year in Lesotho. The following year the duke, 37, saw Mahfouz, 51, at Clarence House after the Prince of Wales had held his own meeting with the Saudi. Harry is alleged to have joked: “Has father beaten me to it and got the money?
Harry was photographed with Mahfouz’s teenage sons at Beaufort Polo Club in the Cotswolds. The prince’s aides simultaneously agreed to throw a banquet in Mahfouz’s honour at St James’s Palace — the most senior royal residence — with his private secretary saying that doing so would be “no problem at all”. The relationship gave Mahfouz the opportunity to pose for photos with the prince, which he used while seeking recognition and residency in Britain, and publicised through his charity.
It helped to open the way for his introduction to Prince Charles, whose right-hand man, Michael Fawcett, had been told that Mahfouz had a “long track record of philanthropy” and was sent details of his donations to Sentebale in the spring of 2014. Fawcett later helped him to secure a CBE. The Sunday Times revealed details of the honour application in September, leading to the resignation of Fawcett and a complaint to the police.
By late 2014 Harry’s advisers allegedly had concerns about Mahfouz and his representatives, opting to wind down the relationship. It is unclear what due diligence they carried out or why Charles’s advisers persisted in their efforts to woo Mahfouz.
Dyer, 57, a godfather to the prince’s son, Archie, two, acted as the key intermediary between Mahfouz’s advisers, royal staff and Sentebale. At the time, Dyer was a trustee of Sentebale, a role he retains. Neither he nor the charity would say if he told the charity’s leadership or board about the apparent “cash for access” arrangement. Dyer did not respond to requests for comment.
Sentebale said: “Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz’s foundation was introduced to a trustee of Sentebale as a prospective high-level donor. A meeting with Mahfouz and the duke was arranged to discuss the work of the charity. Beyond the two donations made to Sentebale by Mahfouz, no other activity took place.”
Excuse me? “By late 2014 Harry’s advisers allegedly had concerns about Mahfouz and his representatives, opting to wind down the relationship. It is unclear what due diligence they carried out or why Charles’s advisers persisted in their efforts to woo Mahfouz.” So, Harry met with Mahfouz several times in exchange for donations (which, again, is how many foundations work) and then distanced himself quickly when the ethics got trickier, and yet Charles and Michael Fawcett continued to pursue the wealthy donor? That accidentally boomeranged back onto Charles, whoops! Anyway, I’m sure the anti-Sussex people will clutch their pearls at the thought of Harry… meeting with a wealthy donor in person, posing for photos with said donor and then ending the relationship when the donor wanted more.
Harry was mad about the way the Times reported this, which I understand – the Times wanted to bury the fact that Harry cut ties with Mahfouz more than six years ago and Harry had no role in his father’s cash-for-honours scandal.
Full statement here in which Harry spokesperson also criticised our reporting.
NB: Emails show Mahfouz-Harry relationship helped pave the way for Mahfouz's introduction to Charles. pic.twitter.com/KniO8w4sS7
— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) December 5, 2021
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.