Prince Charles was accused of a ‘serious lack of judgment’ yesterday after it emerged his charity accepted £1million from the family of Osama bin Laden.
It received the donation after Charles had a private meeting with the terrorist’s half-brother Bakr bin Laden in 2013 – two years after the Al Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces.
The Charity Commission is likely to face calls to investigate in light of the revelation.
Royal sources denied reports that Charles, 73, had ‘brokered’ the donation, or that he agreed to it in the face of opposition from his advisers.
Clarence House said the trustees of the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF) had agreed to accept the donation without the prince’s involvement, and that they carried out ‘thorough due diligence’.
Prince Charles was accused of a ‘serious lack of judgment’ yesterday after it emerged his charity accepted £1million from the family of Osama bin Laden
But the latest revelation comes only weeks after it emerged the PWCF accepted more than £2.5million in cash donations, said to be stuffed in bags and suitcases, from a former Qatari prime minister.
And it raised further questions about the fundraising activities of the prince’s charity, and why it accepted money from the Bin Laden family.
Former Government minister Norman Baker said: ‘Prince Charles continues to show a serious lack of judgment about whom he will accept money from.
‘Is there in fact anyone he would refuse money from? Is this really appropriate behaviour from the heir to the throne?’
The Bin Laden family publicly disowned Osama bin Laden in 1994, before it emerged his Al Qaeda network had carried out the 9/11 attacks.
Both the PWCF and Clarence House said the £1million donation was made and accepted, but said it was accepted by the charity’s trustees, and not by the prince.
Sources denied reports that Charles had accepted the donation, and had done so despite objections by advisers – including at least one trustee – who pleaded with him to return the money.
It received the donation after Charles had a private meeting with the terrorist’s half-brother Bakr bin Laden in 2013 – two years after the Al Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces
There is no suggestion that Bakr bin Laden, 76, had any involvement in terrorism. A PWCF source said its trustees had carried out ‘a thorough examination of the issues’ and decided that the actions of one member of the Bin Laden family ‘should not tarnish the whole family’
Royal sources also denied claims that one of Charles’s household staff told the prince ‘it would not be good for anybody’ if it emerged he had accepted money from the Bin Laden family.
The PWCF said it had ‘carefully considered’ the donation and accepted only after seeking information from a range of sources, including the Government.
Charles was reportedly introduced to Bakr bin Laden by Saudi royal Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al-Saud in June 2001. The pair met again in October 2001 – four weeks after the 9/11 attacks – and dined at Charles’s home Highgrove to discuss the Islamic faith.
The two met again at Clarence House in October 2013, and the meeting was noted in the official Court Circular. The Sunday Times alleged Charles ‘brokered’ the £1million donation after that meeting, although the claim was denied by royal sources.
There is no suggestion that Bakr bin Laden, 76, had any involvement in terrorism.
A PWCF source said its trustees had carried out ‘a thorough examination of the issues’ and decided that the actions of one member of the Bin Laden family ‘should not tarnish the whole family’.
Charles was reportedly introduced to Bakr bin Laden by Saudi royal Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al-Saud in June 2001. The pair met again in October 2001 – four weeks after the 9/11 attacks – and dined at Charles’s home Highgrove to discuss the Islamic faith
PWCF chairman Sir Ian Cheshire said the decision to accept the donation was taken by the five trustees and that no wrongdoing was committed.
He added: ‘Due diligence was conducted, with information sought from a wide range of sources, including Government. The decision to accept the donation was taken wholly by the trustees. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate.’
A spokesman for Clarence House said: ‘The PWCF has assured us that thorough due diligence was undertaken. The decision to accept was taken by the charity’s trustees alone and any attempt to characterise it otherwise is false.’
The Charity Commission declined to comment.
How could an intelligent man get it so wrong
By Stephen Glover for the Daily Mail
At a recent lunch hosted by the Oldie magazine, the Duchess of Cornwall was in an admirably robust mood.
‘The Duke of Edinburgh’s philosophy was clear,’ Camilla declared. ‘Look up and look out, say less, do more — and get on with the job.’ And that is just what I intend to do.’
We can only imagine what the plain-spoken Philip might have said about his eldest son’s latest folly: the news that Charles accepted £1million for his charity from the family of Osama bin Laden, the most destructive terrorist who has ever lived.
Camilla should adopt Philip’s no- nonsense approach and give her husband a good talking-to. She could say, for example: ‘What a damn fool you’ve been — again. You seem to be going out of your way to bring discredit on the monarchy. You can sometimes be a blithering idiot, Charles.’
For it seems the heir to the throne doesn’t listen to anyone else. According to the Sunday Times, which has revealed the £1million gift from two half-brothers of Osama bin Laden in 2013, one of his own household told him that his acceptance of it would cause national outrage if the news leaked to the media. And so it has.
Another adviser reportedly urged Prince Charles to return the money, and warned that he would suffer serious reputational damage if his name appeared in the same sentence as the terrorist, who was responsible for the murder of 67 Britons, along with thousands of Americans and others, on that dreadful day, September 11, 2001.
But Charles sailed on in a bone-headed way, just as he unwisely accepted a holdall stuffed with €1million from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani — a former prime minister of Qatar and not necessarily the most admirable man who has ever walked the face of the earth — during a one-to-one meeting in Clarence House.
That money, like the gift from the Bin Laden family, was destined for the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund. There is absolutely no suggestion that the prince is in any way venal or corrupt.
He simply has appalling judgment in such matters, combined with a kind of pig-headed arrogance. It is as though he believes that, as a consequence of his great importance, he is somehow exempt from the standards that govern the rest of us.
The opposite is the case. We look to our next King to provide an example of good sense — to be impeccable in his behaviour, just as his mother, the Queen, has been throughout her long reign.
If you were to ask 100 people down at the Dog and Duck whether they thought the prince should have accepted a gift from the family of a deadly terrorist (who was deservedly dispatched by American special forces in 2011), I wager that nearly all of them would say ‘No’.
Would Charles accept a huge donation from the descendants of Heinrich Himmler or Adolf Eichmann were they in a position to make one? I don’t imagine that even he would be so ill-advised.
So why take £1 million from the Bin Laden family? If anything, it would be less obnoxious to accept money from the fairly distant relatives of monsters whose sins were committed 80 years ago than from the half-brothers of an evil terrorist who has cast such a shadow over our own era. It makes little or no difference that the Bin Laden family long ago disowned its homicidal offspring.
I’m afraid — monarchist as I am, and an admirer of Prince Charles in many ways — that I almost despair at his foolishness. I can’t understand how a decent and intelligent man could have got something so badly wrong.
What is clear is that his charity has led him astray. Last year, it was claimed that Michael Fawcett, his closest confidant, offered to help a Saudi billionaire obtain a knighthood in exchange for generous donations to the Prince’s Foundation, of which Fawcett was chief executive. There is no suggestion Charles knew about this. Police are still investigating the matter.
At the very least, the prince must show that his charitable causes will in future be conducted in a more respectable and transparent fashion, and that there won’t be any more holdalls full of high-denomination euro notes changing hands, or large gifts from the family of an infamous mass murderer.
And, as the Duke of Edinburgh is no longer with us, it really does fall to the straight-talking Camilla to give her husband a good dressing-down — and for the prince to take a closer look at himself than he is wont to do.
My worry is that Charles may have been guilty of other acts of stupidity in the past which have not yet come to light, and that, if they do, there will be more damaging revelations.
Careless behaviour on the prince’s part is bound, if repeated, to weaken the monarchy. How terrifyingly quickly the Queen’s precious legacy could unravel.