Prince Charles' Charity Chairman Resigns Over 'Misconduct' Claims from Six-Figure Donation

Prince Charles and his Prince's Foundation face a second scandal this month after close aide Michael Fawcett stepped back from the charity September 6 as Charles claimed "no knowledge" of wrongdoing

prince charles
Prince Charles. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty

The chairman of Prince Charles' charity has stepped down amid claims that The Prince's Foundation was offered a six-figure sum from a Russian donor.

The Scottish Charity Regulator launched an investigation this week after The Sunday Times reported that Prince Charles wrote a letter thanking a businessman for his offer of nearly $700,000 to the foundation last year. The outlet reported that the charity accepted more than $100,000 before their ethics committee rejected the remaining amount.

A spokesperson for the Prince's Foundation confirmed the news in a statement: "The Prince's Foundation understands and respects Mr. Connell's decision to step down. We would like to thank him for all his work to date and wish him well."

"The Prince's Foundation takes very seriously the allegations made in recent news articles and is committed to the highest ethical standards," the spokesperson added. "These changes to the board of Trustees will not impact the scope or timing of the rigorous independent investigation already underway."

Dame Sue Bruce, Vice Chair, will take on the role of Acting Chair.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>
Prince Charles. KIRSTY O'CONNOR/POOL/AFP via Getty

Connell said Wednesday that he was "shocked and dismayed" by the reports of "rogue activity" within the foundation, announcing that they had launched an investigation, according to Sky News.

"My view is that the person chairing any organization should take responsibility if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place within it," he said. "I believe that the correct course of action is for the chair to accept that responsibility and to stand down from the role. That is why I am today resigning as chair of the Prince's Foundation."

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The scandal comes shortly after Michael Fawcett resigned from his role as the chief executive of The Prince's Foundation following claims made in a series of newspaper articles over the weekend about how official honors were sought on behalf of a Saudi businessman.

"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," Prince Charles' office at Clarence House responded to the allegations in a statement to PEOPLE.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a> with his valet Michael Fawcett
Prince Charles with Michael Fawcett. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday carried allegations that Fawcett helped support a campaign for official honors for Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.

A letter from Fawcett to an aide to Mahfouz in August 2018, published by the Mail on Sunday, reportedly said, "In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency ... I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for Citizenship."

Fawcett continued in the letter: "I can further confirm that we are willing to make [an] application to increase His Excellency's honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty's Honours Committee."

Michael Fawcett, former valet to <a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>
Michael Fawcett with Prince Charles. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Mahfouz — who The Sunday Times says denies any wrongdoing — has reportedly been a generous donor to two of Charles's pet projects, the restorations of Dumfries House and the Castle of Mey, both in Scotland, which Fawcett ran at the time of the donations.

A spokesperson for the Prince's Foundation said in a statement: "The Prince's Foundation takes very seriously the allegations that have recently been brought to its attention and the matter is currently under investigation."

"The scope of The Prince's Foundation investigation has been extended to cover this weekend's newspaper reports." An independent review by an external Senior Forensic Accountant was underway.

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