Prince Charles's Closest Aide Worked with 'Fixers' to Land Official Honors for Charity Donor

An investigation has found that Michael Fawcett, who resigned as chief executive of the Prince's Foundation in November, worked with the middlemen between 2014-2018

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

Prince Charles's one-time closest confidant worked with "fixers" to try and secure official honors for a donor to the Prince's Foundation, an inquiry has found.

Michael Fawcett, who resigned as the chief executive of the charity in November, was found to have been in "communication and coordination" with the middlemen regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-2018, the report compiled by auditors Ernst & Young revealed Friday.

It added that Fawcett operated under the radar of the trustees of the foundation, who were unaware of the communications at the time. The report also stated that Ernst & Young found "no evidence that employees or trustees of the Prince's Foundation were aware of private dinners being 'sold' or arranged in exchange for money."

In response to the report, a spokesperson from Clarence House said: "The Prince of Wales is grateful to independent auditors for reviewing procedures at the Prince's Foundation, who are today announcing a series of findings. It is important to His Royal Highness that the charities which bear his name operate to the highest standards, in accordance with rules established by charity regulators. We are taking this opportunity to reinforce guidance to these charities, particularly in respect of their relationships with supporters."

Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the board of trustees of the Prince's Foundation, stated that the foundation is "determined that lessons will be learned to ensure that, in future, our charity maintains the highest standards in all areas and always acts with the utmost integrity and probity."

prince charles
Prince Charles. Chris Jackson/Getty

"As we move through this difficult chapter, I hope that the stories of note will begin to focus once more on the beneficial outcomes delivered by the Prince's Foundation," she added in her written statement. "We look forward with optimism to continuing to deliver our charitable activities," she continued.

The investigation into fundraising practices at the Prince's Foundation was instigated by the board of trustees after The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday reported allegations that Fawcett helped support an ultimately unsuccessful 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."

Prince Charles with his valet Michael Fawcett
Prince Charles with Michael Fawcett. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Friday's report appeared to back up this claim, stating that Ernst & Young found evidence that Fawcett and another employee were involved "in directing a transfer of funds from the Saudi businessman's Mahfouz Foundation to the Children and the Arts Foundation (CATA)."

The activity, including written correspondence, took place without "the knowledge or approval" of the foundation trustees, the report added.

In a second case involving a $132,000 donation to the foundation from Russian banker Dmitry Leus, via the Mahfouz Foundation, the probe ruled that the processes of the foundation's Ethics Committee were properly followed. While the donation was initially approved and accepted by the committee, it later rejected and returned the money after new information came to light.

Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall walking tour of Umm Qais
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

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The departure of Fawcett — who rose from being a footman to Queen Elizabeth to Charles's valet and ultimately to running the charity – has left the future king without the support and advice of one of his most trusted aides.

Fawcett's private work providing party planning services, via his firm Premier Mode, to Charles's household has also ended.

"Michael Fawcett and Premier Mode will not be providing services to us in the future," a Clarence House spokesperson told PEOPLE in November. "We have all agreed to end these arrangements."

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