THE QUEEN is celebrating 70 years on the throne this year, but scandals within the Royal Family could threaten the very fabric of the monarchy in public life. Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation earlier this month as she marked the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, taking the opportunity to re-issue her most famous pledge, first made in 1946: “That my life will always be devoted to your service.” But as tributes for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch pour in and plans for summer Platinum Jubilee celebrations get underway, the Queen is also faced with the reputational damage to the Royal Family from ongoing scandals.
The ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal surrounding Prince Charles’ charity.
Last week, it emerged that the Metropolitan Police will investigate claims Prince Charles’ charity, The Prince’s Foundation, was involved in a cash-for-honours case with a Saudi billionaire. The force said it is investigating alleged offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.
The Met’s decision to investigate follows reports that Prince Charles’ former valet Michael Fawcett allegedly offered to help secure an honour for a Saudi citizen, as well as British citizenship. Businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz is reported to have donated money to restoration projects of interest to Prince Charles. After the allegations emerged, Mr Fawcett temporarily stepped back as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, before resigning in November. Mr Mahfouz is not accused of, and denies, any wrongdoing.
When the allegations first emerged, The Prince’s Foundation announced an internal investigation into the allegations, but on the latest development with the Met investigation, it said it would be “inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation”. Clarence House reiterated its previous insistence that Prince Charles had “no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities”.
Charles is president of the foundation but is not involved with its governance, with the charity’s trustees overseeing its day-to-day activities. People Abused in Childhood (Napac), saying: “Napac acknowledges and is grateful to the many generous fundraisers and donors who are survivors or supporters of survivors themselves.
“With this trust being core to Napac’s approach, any support for the charity that Prince Andrew may offer would raise significant concerns as to the ethical implications of accepting money or patronage from an individual who is a suspected perpetrator and who had ties to a convicted offender.” Councillors in York have also called for Andrew to relinquish his Duke of York title, and have taken steps to remove his Freedom of the City honour.
Liberal Democrat councillor Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said: “We are seeking to end Prince Andrew’s links with our great city.” Mr Smalley said York’s connection with the crown and monarchy was an “important part” of the city’s legacy and history. He added: “However, as a council and city, we stand with victims of sexual abuse and are doing all we can to end violence against women and girls locally.
“As such, it is inappropriate that Prince Andrew retains his ambassadorial title that is intrinsically linked to our city.” There are also ongoing questions about how the Duke will afford to pay the settlement — widely reported to be between £5million and £12million — and whether any public funds available to the Royal Family could be used.
How is all of this affecting the monarchy?
This year was meant to be one of celebration, in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. But there is little doubt that it’s been a difficult start to 2022 for the Royal Family, with headlines dominated by the ongoing questions outlined here. In addition to this, the Queen, 95, contracted Covid recently — she is believed to be suffering mild symptoms only, but there are concerns about her age.
In an attempt to get some good PR, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge — a public favourite — undertook a solo trip to Denmark this week, and will head to Wales for more public face-time with Prince William next week. And plans for the Platinum Jubilee are going ahead, with tickets to the star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace opening to the public on Thursday. Ten thousand free tickets are now available for the Platinum Party at the Palace on June 4. The ballot, announced on Wednesday, will close at 23:59 on March 23.