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Prince Charles downplays bin Laden donation
Prince Charles successfully avoided reputational damage flowing from reports that he received €3 million ($3 million) in cash in shopping bags from a Qatari politician by framing it as a slightly irregular form of charitable donation. Happily for him, the Charity Commission took just a few weeks to agree that it was totally OK.
And the Saudi prince who gave Charles substantial donations, and who was told explicitly in writing that further generosity would be returned with “special friendship” and an honor? Because that was just the fault of a rogue courtier, Charles knew nothing about the background to his gigantic cash donation (despite meeting the guy at the embassy in Riyadh to give him a gong). The police promised to investigate but appeared to have gone very quiet on the matter.
Will there be more so-what shrugging after a damning report into Charles accepting a £1 million ($1.2 million) donation from Saudi billionaire Bakr bin Laden, as revealed by The Sunday Times this weekend (and reported by The Daily Beast)?
“Prince Charles personally secured the money from Bakr bin Laden, the patriarch of the wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq,” the report outlined. “Both men are half-brothers of Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda who masterminded the September 11 attacks.”
Prince Charles’ office has now issued a statement to The Daily Beast attempting to bat allegations of wrongdoing firmly away from the heir to the throne.
“The decision to accept was taken by the charity’s Trustees alone and any attempt to characterize it otherwise is false.“
— Prince Charles’ office
“The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund.” [PWCF] has assured us that thorough due diligence was undertaken in accepting this donation. The decision to accept was taken by the charity’s Trustees alone and any attempt to characterize it otherwise is false.”
A source told The Daily Beast that the prince did not personally accept the donation, trying to draw a distinction between his actions and those made by the PWCF, and denied allegations in The Sunday Times that the prince brokered the deal.
The source also refuted the allegations The Sunday Times that Charles “agreed to the donations despite the objections of [advisers],” and denied that advisers pleaded with him in person and urged him to return the money, and said that an allegation that the prince was told by a trusted adviser that “it would not be good for anybody was false.”
In a separate article the Sunday Times makes clear that Osama had 53 other siblings and half siblings, owing to the paternal instinct of their late father, Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, who married at least 20 times and died in a plane crash aged 59 in 1967, when Osama was 10 years old front. The family, who owns the biggest construction firm in the Arab world, have publicly disavowed Osama.
Andrew “laughed” during the Panorama interview
The Sun on Sunday may have solved the mystery of the mysterious, supposedly embarrassing photo said to have been taken of Prince Andrew during his notorious Panorama interview, which precipitated his excommunication from royal life.
A source told the paper of the alleged picture: “It’s a still picture showing Emily interviewing Andrew. You can see his face and he’s laughing. People will feel it was reckless for him to laugh during such a sensitive interview. But he probably didn’t realize the seriousness or consequences of laughing or how it would look on camera. You have to bear in mind that after the interview, he thought it had gone very well—only to be subsequently hit by a wave of negative reaction.”
What a let down!
Omid Scobie plans dishy new royals’ book
His and Carolyn Durand’s book Finding Freedom caused shockwave after shockwave, with extremely intimate access to the innermost thoughts of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. And now Omid Scobie is preparing a new blockbuster, to be published next year, the Mail reports—and it’s being trailed as “a new chapter of the royal story and feature unique insight, deep access, and exclusive revelations.”
As this will follow Harry’s own memoir, which itself follows Tom Bower’s Meghan-focused tome, Revenge, one might think: what more is there left to say? But it’s the royals we’re talking about, so… well, a lot.
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On the subject of Harry’s mysterious memoir, Richard Kay of the Daily Mail has written a piece mulling what everyone else is thinking: just what is Harry going to come out with? One major palace concern is that he will focus his anger on Camilla.
“Understandably there is considerable anxiety in Buckingham Palace circles that Harry will use the memoir to settle perceived scores with family members and senior courtiers,” Kay says. “They are particularly nervous about his attitude towards his stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, the women whom many of the late Princess’s supporters still blame for the collapse of the Charles-Diana marriage.”
A few years ago, Kay says, Harry had contacted friends of his mother to share their memories of her, initially as a memory-freshening exercise. One of Diana’s friends at least had a lengthy discussion with him about Camilla, Kay says. “It was pretty clear that he did not have a high opinion of her,” the friend later told Kay. “He wasn’t very complimentary about her and I very much doubt he forgot what we talked about that day.”
“It is the disintegration of the bond between him and William over the past three years which has so alarmed courtiers,” Kay says. “They are, I am told, unimpressed by Harry’s bold assertion that he has written the book ‘not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become.’
“If this is meant to convey some kind of reassurance that he will not be telling tales from within his privileged position inside the Royal Family, then people are not convinced,” according to “one figure who has known Harry most of his life.”
Inevitably the memoir will focus on significant moments such as the loss of his mother, and walking behind her coffin as the world watched on, but, as Kay says, much remains a mystery about what Harry will reveal—about his hedonistic youth, for example , and his relationship with William. It is this not-knowing that may drive book sales, as well as stoke a lot of pre-publication fear within the royal family.
Will the truth ever out?
British historian Andrew Lownie suspects the government may be trying to suppress details of an extra-marital affair by Prince Philip.
Lownie has spent over $500,000 trying to get the British government to release the full diaries of Prince Philip’s uncle Louis Mountbatten. Mountbatten was killed in a 1979 bomb attack by the IRA in Ireland.
The Mirror reports that the Mountbatten family sold his papers to Southampton University in 2011 for £2.8 million, but that key excerpts have been redacted.
Lownie, 60, told the Mirror: “The only reason I can think of is that there is a reference to a lover of Prince Philip.”
Back to school
The Sunday Telegraph have a big feature on the new school that Kate Middleton and Prince William’s kids will attend when they complete their move to Windsor ahead of the new academic year. The three kids are off to Lambrook School in Berkshire, just down the road from their new pad Adelaide Cottage.
A fellow parent sang the school’s praises to the paper, saying: “There’s no comparing it to the hot house our daughter attended in London—there’s acres of space and no pushiness. The lessons are fun and there’s a tight, all-inclusive community. I defy any child not to love it.”
This week in royal history
Happy birthday, Meghan Markle; she turns 41 on August 4.
Will any of the financial scandals swirling around Prince Charles dent his route to being king? Will the mysterious Panorama picture of Prince Andrew finally be published?
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