Prince’s former aide steps down from charity role amid Saudi honours allegations



Prince Charles’s former valet has stepped down temporarily as chief executive of a royal charity amid allegations he coordinated efforts to secure an honour for a Saudi businessman.

Michael Fawcett, a former assistant valet who left the prince’s service in 2003, was appointed to head The Prince’s Foundation in 2018.

But he has now given up the role pending the investigation of claims reported by Sunday newspapers relating to businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.

The Sunday Times says Mr Mahfouz, who is listed as a supporter on The Prince’s Foundation website, donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to the prince.

It adds that Mr Mahfouz, who was given an honorary CBE reserved for foreign nationals, denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Fawcett, who was cleared of financial misconduct allegations relating to the selling of royal gifts in 2003, is claimed to have coordinated support for the honour for Mr Mahfouz.

Douglas Connell, chairman of The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Michael Fawcett offered to step down temporarily from active duties as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation while the trustees’ investigation is ongoing.

“The Prince’s Foundation has accepted this offer. Michael fully supports the ongoing investigation and has confirmed that he will assist the investigation in every way.”

It is understood that Emily Cherrington, the chief operating officer, will take over in the interim, and that the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has been informed as the foundation is a charity registered in Scotland.

The Prince’s Foundation said: “The Prince’s Foundation takes very seriously the allegations that have recently been brought to its attention and the matter is currently under investigation.

“We are incredibly proud of The Prince’s Foundation’s charitable work and the positive impact it has on our beneficiaries throughout the UK and across the world.

“Our education and training programmes, in particular, benefit more than 15,000 people every year, and provide our students with the skills and confidence needed to gain employment or start their own businesses.”

Mr Fawcett began his royal service in 1981 as a footman to the Queen, rising through the ranks to sergeant footman and then Charles’s assistant valet, setting out his bespoke suits and shirts every morning at Kensington Palace.

He was accused of selling unwanted royal gifts and pocketing a percentage of the proceeds when he was the prince’s personal assistant, but was cleared by an internal inquiry of any financial misconduct.

The inquiry, headed by the prince’s then private secretary Sir Michael Peat, found Mr Fawcett did “infringe internal rules relating to gifts from suppliers” but could not be severely criticised because the rules were not enforced and he made no secret of such gifts.

But the report painted a picture of Mr Fawcett as an alleged bully who accepted valuable gifts from outsiders.

Mr Fawcett resigned following the report’s publication, but continued to have the prince’s patronage as a freelance fixer and party planner, and picked up an undisclosed cash severance package as well as an agreement to work as the Prince’s events manager.

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