Charles and Harry's relationship 'at rock bottom', say royal experts

Charles and Harry’s relationship is ‘at rock bottom’ after Duke took a swipe at his father by issuing statement pointing out he had ditched Saudi billionaire who is now linked to ‘cash for access’ scandal

  • Prince Harry ‘severed ties’ with billionaire at centre of ‘cash for honours’ scandal – Mahfouz bin Mahfouz
  • The Duke of Sussex ‘expressed concern’ over Saudi billionaire’s motives in 2015, according to new statement
  • Saudi was allegedly promised knighthood for donations to Prince Foundation. Michael Fawcett has resigned 
  • Charles’ closest aide is alleged to have helped organise honours for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz

Prince Harry’s decision to take a public swipe at Prince Charlies about the donor at the heart of the ‘cash for access’ scandal shows the relationship between father and son is now at ‘rock bottom’, royal experts told MailOnline today. 

The Duke of Sussex has risked another public rift with the Prince of Wales after he said he had ‘severed ties’ with Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz a year before Prince Charles presented the controversial Saudi billionaire with a CBE.

Charles has been engulfed by criticism in recent months owing to his relationship with Mr Mahfouz and the hundreds of thousands of pounds the billionaire donated to the royal’s pet projects via his charitable trust. The prince’s senior aide Michael Fawcett was forced to resign as head of The Prince’s Foundation last month over his role in the scandal.

In an extraordinary statement last night, Harry said he had no involvement in what he described as the ‘CBE scandal’, insisted he had concerns about the Saudi businessman’s ‘motives’ and claimed he ‘expressed his concerns’ about him. 

The Duke of Sussex made the comments after it was revealed that he had held a private meeting with Mr Mahfouz, who has given tens of thousands of pounds to charities associated with the duke. It is not clear if any of that money was given back – or who Harry raised his concerns to.

Royal watchers said the intervention is a sign that father and son have not patched things up since Megxit and the bombshells dropped by the Sussexes in their Oprah interview in March.

Angela Levin, who wrote a recent biography on the Duke of Sussex, told MailOnline: ‘Harry’s relationship with his father is rock bottom, for him, but not for his hugely hurt and loving father. 

‘He [Harry] seems to need to endlessly attack his loving father to feel powerful, especially now that Prince Charles no longer feeds him large amounts of money. 

‘If he felt so suspicious about Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, why didn’t he return the £50,000 to his African charity Sentebale and £10,000 to Walking With The Wounded, of which he was patron. At the time he must have had £30million in the bank that his mother left him.

‘He hasn’t given us details when and who he warned about the billionaire’s credibility. Nor has he mentioned who he told and when. Nor does he mention the diamond earrings Meghan was gifted from a dubious billionaire Saudi’.

 She added: ‘It’s the same old thing from Harry and Meghan. Be compassionate to those you know and don’t know, but I am going to attack my family and especially my father’.

Commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said Harry going public will further ‘fuel speculation about the state of his relations with his father, which appears to be distant. The problems engulfing his charitable foundation and the resignation of Michael Fawcett are embarrassing for Charles. The wording of the Duke’s statement, referring to ‘the CBE scandal’ will be noted too.

‘What is highlighted by this episode is that what would normally be expected from members of the Royal Family, close collaboration between father and son when statements are issued when dealing with a highly sensitive matter like this, is conspicuously lacking’. He said this ‘bodes ill’ with Harry’s memoir due out next year.

The Duke of Sussex (left) said last night he had ‘severed ties’ with Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (right) a year before Prince Charles presented the controversial Saudi billionaire with a CBE

But in an extraordinary statement which could spark a family rift, Harry said he had no involvement in what he described as the ‘CBE scandal’, insisted he had concerns about the Saudi businessman’s ‘motives’

Prince Charles (left) has been engulfed by criticism in recent months owing to his relationship with Mr Mahfouz (right)

Prince Charles’s former closest aide looks a far cry from his previous polished self on a Christmas shopping trip this weekend.

It was the first time Michael Fawcett had been seen since his resignation as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation last month.

Wearing loose-fitting black hoodie, jeans and white trainers, the 59-year-old stocked up on firewood and lights at a Homebase in Richmond, west London, on Saturday. Mr Fawcett stepped down following reports that he promised to secure a knighthood and British citizenship for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had given more than £1.5million to the Prince’s Foundation.

It is not yet clear whether any sanctions will be taken against the former royal valet. The Metropolitan Police are looking into the claims.

Prince Charles has reportedly said he is willing to speak to detectives over allegations that his closest aide fixed an honour for a Saudi billionaire.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who filed a criminal complaint about the matter three months ago, told MailOnline: ‘The tide of sleaze is lapping at Prince Charles’ door and his son can see it. Harry is trying to protect himself and is clearly saying to his dad: Don’t drag me into it.

‘If police speak to Charles he will likely tell them: ‘I knew nothing about it’. If that’s what he says then Harry’s statement becomes more important and police may then want to speak to him, although that could be more problematic because he lives abroad’. Mr Baker said it would be telling if the Duke of Sussex chose to do so.

He added: ‘The police have been reluctant to investigate the Royal Family. They did it with Andrew and are trying to do the same with Charles’.

Royal commentator Peter Hunt added: ‘Prince Charles presented Mr Mahfouz with his CBE in 2016. Did Prince Harry tell him about his concerns in 2015?

‘Just one of the many questions the Metropolitan Police could ask father and son if they choose to investigate.’ 

Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz is embroiled in claims that he showered money on charitable causes close to the Prince of Wales in the hope of obtaining an honour and British citizenship.

Harry is said to have become concerned about Mr Mahfouz in 2014 and wound down their relationship the following year, having met him twice. 

An independent investigation last week found Mr Fawcett had colluded with ‘fixers’ representing Mr Mahfouz who were trying to secure an honour in exchange for donations.

Mr Mahfouz is thought to have donated at least £1.5 million to royal charities.

The Duke of Sussex said that when he cut ties with Mr Mahfouz in 2015, he ‘expressed his concerns about the donor’. But his statement did not make clear to whom he voiced these qualms.

The following year, Charles presented the Saudi billionaire with an ‘honorary’ CBE in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales and Mr Mahfouz also held private meetings in Scotland and Saudi Arabia. 

Clarence House yesterday repeated that Charles had ‘no knowledge’ of the ‘cash for access’ allegations, but it did not comment on whether Harry raised concerns with him about Mr Mahfouz.

The Metropolitan Police has made initial inquiries into Mr Fawcett, but a full investigation has not been launched. 

Harry first met Mr Mahfouz in 2013 at a pub in Chelsea, west London, owned by Mark Dyer, a former royal equerry, The Sunday Times revealed yesterday.

They discussed the duke’s charity Sentebale, set up in 2006 to help people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by Aids, following his gap year in Africa.

The newspaper reported the pair met again at Clarence House the following year after Charles had also met Mr Mahfouz, where Harry allegedly joked: ‘Has father beaten me to it and got the money?’

The prince’s senior aide Michael Fawcett (pictured) was forced to resign as head of The Prince’s Foundation last month over his role in the scandal and was pictured on a shopping trip this weekend

In February 2013, Mr Mahfouz donated £50,000 to Sentebale. Later that year he gave £10,000 to Walking With The Wounded, another charity of which Harry was patron.

A spokesman for the duke said yesterday: ‘The duke had one planned meeting with this donor eight years ago, did not introduce him to any members of the Royal Family, and expressed his concerns about the donor.’

The Prince’s Foundation is being investigated by the Scottish charities regulator over claims it accepted a six-figure sum from a wealthy Russian donor which was later rejected by its ethics committee. An independent investigation into the ‘cash for access’ allegations commissioned by the foundation last week found ‘evidence of communication and co-ordination’ between Mr Fawcett and ‘fixers regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18’.

Harry’s relationship with his father soured following the tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in March. The duke said his father had cut him off financially when he and Meghan announced plans to move to America and there was ‘a lot of hurt’.

But it is thought they had patched things up in recent months, having last spoken in person at Prince Philip’s funeral in April.

Sentebale said: ‘It is entirely normal and legitimate for patrons to meet potential donors, on whose support we depend. This includes the two donations received in 2013-14 from the Mahfouz Foundation – donations that we would not have accepted if we believed there was anything improper behind them.’

Harry throws his own father under the bus  

By Rebecca English 

To say that the Prince of Wales’ relationship with his sons is complex is an understatement.

Both William and Harry have historically accused Charles of being a ‘laissez-faire’ father – one more preoccupied with weighty affairs of state and his considerable philanthropic legacy than bathtime, wrestling matches and bedtime stories.

It’s not entirely fair, of course. The reality when it comes to the Royal Family – as with any family – is always more complicated.

Like other royals, Charles was ‘deeply, deeply’ hurt at the manner of Harry and Meghan’s bitter exit from the family in 2020.

Still, as Harry and William’s relationship descended into acrimony, their father tried to remain a non-partisan figure – partly because Charles has always shied away from personal confrontation with his sons, but also because he genuinely wanted to retain a Swiss-like neutrality between them.

But, while disappointing, the statement from the prince’s Los Angeles-based spokesman effectively throwing his father ‘under a bus’ over the ‘cash for honours’ investigation did not come as much of a surprise. The comment, which was belatedly issued yesterday after a newspaper highlighted Harry’s own links with Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, was at pains to try to emphasise the younger prince’s own foresight. It glossed over Harry’s private meeting with Mahfouz in a close friend’s pub in Chelsea – and a subsequent encounter at Clarence House where he was said to have joked: ‘Has father beaten me to it and got the money?’

Much as there is the notion of collective responsibility at Cabinet level, so is it within the folds of the Royal Family: defend your position directly and to the point by all means, but not at the expense of your nearest and dearest.

Harry’s statement, however, was liberally sprinkled with digs at his father – the reference to ‘the CBE scandal’, for example. Then there was the suggestion that the younger prince and his advisers saw sense at the earliest possible opportunity, when Charles’ former senior aide Michael Fawcett – and presumably the Prince of Wales himself – did not.

As for the claim that Harry ‘expressed his concerns’ about the donor… well, to whom? Certainly no one within his father’s household has any recollection about this at all.

Indeed, I understand that Charles wasn’t even aware until this weekend that his son had met Mahfouz in a west London pub, let alone encouraged his charity to accept any money from him.

If Harry was that concerned about the Saudi billionaire, surely he could have warned his father, possibly when he saw him at his London residence the same day.

It was also no secret, subsequently, that Mahfouz had become a major donor to Charles’ charitable endeavours – he had a wood named after him at Dumfries House, the Scottish seat of his charitable empire, after all.

Contrary to claims in the BBC’s recent controversial documentary on royals and the media that the three royal households are all too quick ‘brief’ against each other, Clarence House was again maintaining a dignified silence last night.

But one loyal friend of the Prince of Wales felt obliged to ask: ‘If Harry indeed had such deep concern about this man and his ‘motives’, then why on earth did he not tell his charity, Sentebale, to just hand the £50,000 he had given them back?’

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