LONDON — The chairman of Prince Charles‘ charitable foundation resigned Wednesday after reports the organization was offered a donation of about $692,000 from a Russian banker seeking British citizenship.
The news marked an escalation in the growing scandal over the workings of the future king’s much-praised charitable activities and the aides who have helped him raise millions of pounds for good causes.
It was another blow to the royal family’s public image following damaging headlines about Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew, and the sexual abuse lawsuit lodged against him in New York.
Prince Andrew sex-abuse lawsuit:Judge declines to OK release of secret settlement that could help him
Prince Harry turns 37 with Time 100 cover after whirlwind year of interviews, becoming dad of 2
It also comes after a poisonous row erupted earlier this year when the rebel royals, Prince Harry (Charles’ younger son) and Duchess Megan of Sussex, raised questions about racism in the family in an internationally broadcast interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The Prince of Wales, 72, supports multiple charities under an umbrella organization, The Prince’s Foundation. The chairman of that foundation, Douglas Connell, stepped down Wednesday after the London Sunday Times alleged that Charles wrote a letter to thank the businessman and philanthropist, Dmitry Leus, for the offer of a large donation last year.
The newspaper reported Charles suggested that they could meet after the pandemic. The Mail on Sunday also reported on the complicated details of the matter.
The Scottish Charity Regulator launched an investigation into the matter earlier this week. The report said the charity initially received about $138,000 from the Russian, but rejected the total sum after its ethics committee raised concerns about Leus’ background.
The allegations followed earlier claims, also reported by the Sunday Times, that the foundation’s chief executive, Michael Fawcett, helped a Saudi donor secure a knighthood and British citizenship after he gave a large donation.
Scandals involving alleged “cash-for-honors” or “cash-for-favors” (including those not involving royals) have regularly cropped up over the years and can be counted on to infuriate politicians, citizens and the media in the United Kingdom.
Fawcett, Charles’ former valet who he has described as “indispensable” to the management of his charitable activities, stepped down from his executive role temporarily and an independent investigation was launched.
Connell said Wednesday that he should accept responsibility “if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place.” The Prince’s Foundation said it took the recent allegations seriously and “is committed to the highest ethical standards.”
Charles is president of the foundation but he is not involved with its governance or day-to-day activities.
A spokesman said Charles fully supports the investigation now under way at the foundation.
Charles and his wife, Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, were most recently seen in public during engagements in Scotland last week.
Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY