London: A former close aide to Prince Charles stepped down temporarily this weekend from his role as chief executive of a royal charity amid reports that he helped secure an honour for a Saudi donor.
The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday newspapers reported that Michael Fawcett coordinated support for an honour for Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.
The Times said the businessman donated sums of more than £1.5 million ($2.8 million) to The Prince’s Foundation to fund heritage restoration projects of interest to Charles, including residences Charles used.
The report said Charles gave Mahfouz an honorary CBE, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, at a private ceremony in 2016. The Saudi denies wrongdoing.
The Prince’s Foundation said in a statement that Fawcett offered to temporarily step down from active duties as the organisation’s chief executive while an investigation takes place. It said Fawcett will assist the investigation.
“The Prince of Wales has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the investigation now underway by The Prince’s Foundation,” Clarence House said in a statement.
Fawcett began his royal service in 1981 as a footman to Queen Elizabeth II and later became Charles’ assistant valet.
In 2003, he was accused of selling unwanted royal gifts but was cleared of financial misconduct allegations. He resigned from his position as valet but continued to work in other roles including as Charles’ events planner.