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The Prince of Wales’s reputation has been damaged by the resignation of one his closest confidants following an alleged cash-for-honours scandal, royal commentators have said.
Charles has once again seen Michael Fawcett, who has served the royal family for 40 years, walk away from a role in controversial circumstances, but there are suspicions he may return.
Mr Fawcett temporarily stood down as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation in September when reports by Sunday newspapers alleged he had promised to help secure a knighthood and British citizenship for a Saudi billionaire donor.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said the episode showed a “lack of judgment” by the future king, while royal author Penny Junor said the aide is “crucial” to the prince and is likely be back in his employment.
Charles’s former valet resigned from the educational charity almost 20 years after he first left the prince’s household following claims that he was selling royal gifts, despite an investigation finding no evidence of “financial impropriety” on his part.
There were reports that the Duchess of Cornwall, who is fiercely loyal to her husband, wanted Charles to sever links with the former chief executive.
A spokesman for the foundation said: “Michael Fawcett has resigned from his post as CEO of the Prince’s Foundation.”
Mr Fawcett’s party planning company will also no longer be providing services to Clarence House.
When the allegations against Mr Fawcett were first made Mr Baker wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking the force to launch a criminal probe into the claims.
The former MP, author of a book about royal family finances titled And What Do You Do?, said: “I think it has damaged Prince Charles and I think it shows over the years he’s shown a lack of judgment when it comes to judging an individual’s character.”
He speculated that Mr Fawcett could now receive a severance payment.
“I would think he would certainly get some financial recompense from the prince. That’s what’s happened on previous occasions, I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen again.
“And if previous behaviour is to be repeated, which it may well do, then in a few weeks or a few months, Michael Fawcett might re-emerge from the back door, back into Prince Charles’s favour.”
In September, the Sunday Times claimed Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who is listed on the Prince’s Foundation website as a supporter, donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Charles, adding that Mr Mahfouz denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Fawcett is alleged to have co-ordinated support for an honour for Mr Mahfouz, according to newspaper reports.
On Thursday, Clarence House said it was ending arrangements with Mr Fawcett and his party planning company.
A spokesman said: “Michael Fawcett and Premier Mode will not be providing services to us in the future. We have all agreed to end these arrangements.”
Ms Junor said of Mr Fawcett: “I know that the prince loves him and he’s indispensable to him but there has been too much scandal attached to him over the years.”
She described the former royal footman as “a bit like a boomerang or a homing pigeon” for his ability to return to Charles and said he is “crucial to him”.
The author added: “My guess is Fawcett will not be gone from the prince’s life entirely; maybe officially, but I would almost bet my boots he will still have a role in the prince’s life in some way or another.”
Mr Fawcett was appointed to the role of chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation in 2018 amid a reorganisation of Charles’s charities.
He began his career as a Buckingham Palace footman but was later accused of selling unwanted royal gifts and pocketing a percentage of the proceeds while working for Charles. He was cleared by an internal inquiry in 2003 of any financial misconduct.
However, in a pervading culture among the prince’s staff of accepting gifts and hospitality from outsiders, Mr Fawcett bent the rules, the inquiry headed by Charles’s then private secretary Sir Michael Peat found.
The royal aide resigned following the report but continued to have the prince’s patronage as a freelance fixer and party planner, and picked up an undisclosed cash severance package as well as an agreement to work as Charles’s events manager.