Prince Charles confidant Michael Fawcett has resigned as chief executive of the Prince's Foundation, a position to which he'd risen over four decades after starting as a footman to Queen Elizabeth

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Michael Fawcett, former valet to Prince Charles
Michael Fawcett with Prince Charles
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Charles is said to have once uttered: "I can manage without just about anyone, except for Michael [Fawcett]."

But he may now have to get used to being without his Mr. Indispensable, who over four decades has risen from footman to Queen Elizabeth to valet to the prince to ultimately being arguably one of his closest staffers.

Fawcett has resigned, temporarily at least, from his role as the chief executive of Charles's 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.

Clarence House responded to the allegations in a statement to PEOPLE on Monday: "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 with his valet Michael Fawcett
Prince Charles with Michael Fawcett
| Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Douglas Connell, Chair of the Prince's Foundation, confirmed Fawcett's resignation in a statement: "Michael Fawcett offered to step down temporarily from active duties as Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation while the Trustees' investigation is ongoing. The Prince's Foundation has accepted this offer. Michael fully supports the ongoing investigation and has confirmed that he will assist the investigation in every way."

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."

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, officially opens the Lerwick Harbour and Scalloway Fish Markets at Shetland Seafood Auctions Ltd at Lerwick Fishmarket, on July 30, 2021
Prince Charles
| Credit: Jane Barlow/Getty

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.

The foundation is run separately from Clarence House, under which the Prince operates his royal duties.

Honors, from CBEs and OBEs to knighthoods, are bestowed by the Queen after recommendations via an honors committee. Charles gave Mahfouz, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, the CBE at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2016. Fawcett has not commented publicly and declined to answer questions when asked outside his home.

It is the latest controversy to surround Fawcett in his four decades close to the prince. In 2003, he was cleared of any misconduct after an inquiry into the selling of unwanted royal gifts but resigned from Charles's staff in the wake of the official report. He then threw himself into a party and event planning business — often employed by the Prince and his interests — and about a decade ago was put in charge of Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland, after Charles bought the property as a restoration and regeneration project. Fawcett was made head of the Prince's Foundation in 2018.

Charles — who helped his mother the Queen entertain Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, at Balmoral over the weekend — has not commented on the claims.