The heir to the British throne accepted £1 million from the family of Osama bin Laden which was then deposited into the accounts of the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation (PWCF), the Sunday Times has reported.
According to the Sunday Times, Prince Charles personally solicited the funds in a private meeting at Clarence House in 2013 from Bakr and Shafiq bin Laden, brothers of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Prince Charles is reported to have accepted the money without first discussing it with his advisors or with the trustees of PWCF. Trustees have a legal and fiduciary obligation to maintain a charity’s independence and safeguard its reputation, so the Prince’s role in arranging the donation raises yet more questions about the workings of his philanthropies.
After the sum was accepted, a palace adviser and a trustee of the charity implored the future king to return the money to the bin Laden family; however, Charles refused.
‘The fact that a member of the highest level of the British establishment was choosing to broker deals with a name and a family that not only rang alarm bells, but abject horror around the world … why would you do this? What good reason is there to do this?’ the source said, according to the Sunday Times.
Prince Charles felt it would be too embarrassing to hand the money back to the brothers, the Sunday Times reported. The Bin Laden family’s relationship with the prince’s charities has never previously been disclosed and does not appear in any public documents. Charities are not required to name their funders. There is no link between Bakr or Shafiq bin Laden and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist activities.
The allegations about the Prince of Wales’ conduct and questionable philanthropic practices come just a month after it was revealed he accepted millions in cash in carrier bags and suitcases from former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Following the revelations, it was reported by the BBC that Prince Charles would no longer accept cash donations. ‘That was then, this is now’, a royal source is reported to have said. The donations were accepted on several occasions, the most recent in 2015.
Prince Charles is also embroiled in another scandal surrounding allegations that his foundation accepted a donation in return for helping secure a public honour. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is conducting a statutory investigation into the Prince’s Foundation on this matter.
In response to the latest allegations, the chair of PWCF, Ian Cheshire said: “The donation from Sheik Bakr Bin Laden in 2013 was carefully considered by PWCF Trustees at the time. 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 Clarence House spokeswoman said: “The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund 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 characterise it otherwise is false.”