Prince Harry hits out at 'deeply offensive' charity claim as he calls in lawyers

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 03: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex announces a partnership between, SkyScanner, CTrip, TripAdvisor and Visa called 'Travalyst' at A'dam Tower on September 03, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The initiative is to help transform the travel industry to better protect tourist destinations. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Harry's organisation Travalyst aims to promote sustainable tourism. (Getty Images)

Prince Harry has called in his lawyers over an allegation from a campaign group that grants awarded to his charitable foundation from Prince William’s breached charity law.

On Monday, anti-monarchy group Republic wrote to the Charity Commission to ask them to investigate whether the Royal Foundation, which conducts the charity work of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, breached several rules when it awarded grants to Sussex Royal and Travalyst.

Sussex Royal was the charitable foundation for Harry and Meghan, and Travalyst is Harry’s sustainable travel non-profit organisation.

Both Prince William and Prince Harry denied anything was wrong with the way the grants were awarded, but Harry has taken further action and is preparing to send a legal letter to Republic.

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A spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex’s legal team, Schillings said: “The Duke of Sussex has always and continues to remain deeply committed to his charitable work. This is his life’s focus, and his devotion to charity is at the very core of the principles he lives by, and is obvious through the impact and success of his many charitable projects throughout the UK and beyond.

“To this point, it is deeply offensive to see false claims made about the Duke of Sussex and his charitable work. It is both defamatory and insulting to all the outstanding organisations and people he has partnered with.

“Travalyst (which was founded within Sussex Royal) is a non-profit organisation for which the duke receives no commercial or financial gain, as is the case with all of his charitable commitments. The duke has not, nor has he ever, had any personal financial interest in his charitable work. The interest has always been clear: to support others and to make a positive difference.

“Had the appropriate course of action been followed for these false allegations, it would have clearly demonstrated that anything related to Sussex Royal, Travalyst, or any of the duke’s charitable endeavours is transparent and above board. To suggest otherwise is unequivocally wrong and will be acted upon accordingly with the weight of the law.

“The avenue through which this was publicly and salaciously created only suggests a hunger for media attention as well as a shared and attacking agenda, which is neither right nor just.

“Both the Charity Commission’s own statement today, as well as that of The Royal Foundation, state there is no determination of wrongdoing here. All of the duke’s charitable activities are fully transparent as well as compliant with Charity Commission guidelines, and moreover with his own moral compass.”

Read more: Harry and Meghan close Sussex Royal charity ahead of big 2021 launch

File photo dated 28/02/18 of (left to right) the Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Sussex with the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge during the first Royal Foundation Forum in central London. The Duchess of Sussex is quitting royal duties 682 days after she married into the Windsors.
The Royal Foundation previously represented the Dukes and Duchesses of Sussex and Cambridge. (PA Images)

Republic’s CEO Graham Smith had written to the Charity Commission to say: “The Royal Foundation gave a grant of £145,000 to Sussex Royal and £144,901 to a non-charitable organisation (Travalyst).

“In both instances it appears the only rationale for the decision was the personal relationship between two patrons, the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge.”

He wants both The Royal Foundation, which continues the work of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after splitting from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the now dissolved Sussex Royal, which was the latter’s charity, investigated over “conflicts of interest, inappropriate use of funds and a lack of independence”.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19:  Prince Harry walks with his best man Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, as they arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Ben Birchall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
William's Royal Foundation denies anything was wrong with the grants given to Harry's projects. (Getty Images)

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On Monday, a Charity Commission spokesman said: “We have received a complaint on this issue. As with all concerns raised with us we will assess the information provided to determine whether or not there is a role for the commission. We have not made any determination of wrongdoing.”

A spokesman for the Royal Foundation said: “The grants made to Sussex Royal were to support the charitable work of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They were fully in line with governance requirements and were reported transparently.”

Sussex Royal is being wound up as Harry and Meghan agreed not to use the word royal in any jurisdiction, after stepping back from their senior royal duties.

The couple is preparing to launch Archewell in 2021, and they are meeting with various community leaders as they carve out its role.