The fate of Prince Charles hangs in the balance, with his smooth accession to the throne in jeopardy.
At the center of his destiny will be the testimony of his former valet. As a longtime keeper of secrets, Michael Fawcett is the only person who can tell the Metropolitan Police if Charles knew a Saudi billionaire had donated £1.5million to support the prince’s charity, possibly in exchange for a written promise that he would be nominated for a KBE.
For more than 40 years, the lives of Charles and Fawcett have been inextricably linked. Known as “The Fixer”, Fawcett was responsible for countless personal arrangements, including loading the prince’s weapons, hosting parties and charity fundraisers, and caring for Camilla Parker Bowles. during and after Charles’ marriage to Diana.
There are few secrets in Charles’ complicated life that Fawcett is unaware of. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he was distrusted by the Queen, Diana, and many courtiers. Accused of bullying and worse in a succession of scandals, he was fired twice, only to be rehired by Charles, who pleaded that Fawcett was indispensable.
Michael Fawcett is the only person who can tell the Metropolitan Police if Charles knew a Saudi billionaire had given £1.5m to support the prince’s charity, possibly in return for a written promise that he would be nominated for a KBE.
Tom Bower is the author of Rebel Prince, The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles.
In truth, Charles was also terrified of making Fawcett an outsider, the ultimate insider.
After seeing how Diana’s former valet and “rock” Paul Burrell made a career out of spilling secrets about her life, Charles is determined to keep Fawcett by his side.
If he ever wrote a denominational book, Fawcett would earn at least £20million. It is no exaggeration to say that there are possible parallels between the present case and what happened in 2002 when Burrell was on trial at the Old Bailey, accused of stealing 310 items from Diana’s estate, and of Charles and Prince William.
The case fell apart when it was revealed that Burrell had apparently told the Queen that he was keeping some of the Princess’s possessions – and therefore Her Majesty’s testimony could be relevant. Saving the reputation of the monarchy was clearly seen as more important than pursuing a criminal case.
The evidence against Fawcett, 59, has been widely discussed since a Mail on Sunday investigation last year claimed he was working with ‘fixers’ to secure honor for the Saudi tycoon.
Among the questions police will no doubt ask Fawcett is who he meant by “we” when he wrote a letter to an aide to the Saudi businessman in 2017, saying that “in light of the current and most recent generosity’ towards Charles’ charities by the Saudi, ‘we are willing’ to support his application for British citizenship.
Was Fawcett writing on behalf of Charles? Certainly, there is a growing body of circumstantial evidence about the prince. Undoubtedly, for 25 years Charles’ cash access has been a source of income for his charities, with Fawcett traveling the world to meet billionaires willing to contribute in return for meeting the prince.
Another key figure is Robert Higdon – the chief executive of the Prince’s charitable foundation in America – who once crudely confessed: ‘I was the money whore’.
For 14 years, Higdon attracted American billionaires to lunches and dinners. He accepted donations of £250,000 to secure a seat next to Charles, with smaller amounts securing less valuable seats.
Rather than guiding dozens of starry-eyed Americans into Charles’ presence, Fawcett lured a ragtag group of foreign businessmen and their wives into the prince’s silver web.
These included controversial billionaires from Russia, Turkey and other eastern outposts who sought respectability by paying to sit with the prince and receiving a photo of the encounter.
Prince Charles’ fate hangs in the balance, with his smooth accession to the throne in jeopardy
It’s hard to believe that Charles didn’t ask for the source of the millions raised in his name. Indeed, at one such fundraising event, as guests handed over checks following a speech by Charles, the pieces of paper were examined by the prince.
Deeming a check insufficient, Charles suggested, “Another zero? The check was duly returned and, under the Prince’s watchful gaze, the extra digit was inserted.
A natural corollary of Charles’ interest in each individual donation – which, after all, was the lifeblood of his charitable works – was his impatience with any warnings about the character of certain donors.
Charles’ staff feared that any negative reviews would lead to their immediate dismissal.
That said, there were concerns that he ran too many charities. When an accountant told him that a particular charity project was “unaffordable”, Charles retorted, “I never want to see that man again!”
The challenge for Scotland Yard officers will be to prove that Charles was aware of Fawcett’s promise to push to “increase” the Saudi donor’s CBE into a KBE.
If Fawcett denies that Charles had any idea of his written promise, any police investigation against the prince would be blocked. But that could still mean Fawcett faces prosecution.
The test of character for the former footman will be herculean.
Make no mistake, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, finds himself in the crosshairs and must pray that his longtime servant remains loyal – and discreet.