Charles Aide Told Saudi Donor: We'll Help You Get Knighthood

The Mail on Sunday

The Mail on Sunday’s front page exclusive ‘Charles aide told Saudi donor: We’ll help you get knighthood’ was a scoop which left both the palace and our Fleet Street rivals reeling.

It exposed the scandal of how Michael Fawcett, the then Prince of Wales’ closest aide, had written to a Saudi tycoon, offering to help him secure a British passport and a knighthood in exchange for past and future donations to Charles’ charity. The story was driven by weeks of brilliant investigative reporting leading to a decisive - and unanswerable - piece of evidence: a letter on headed paper from Fawcett himself. In it, Fawcett wrote that “in light of the ongoing and most recent generosity” of Sheikh Mahfouz, he was “happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for Citizenship. 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.” This struck at the heart of the way power works in Britain, exposing the underhand way in which the honours system and the future king had been suborned in a grubby exchange. Those who offered the most would receive the most, in this case British citizenship and the right to be known as Sir. The effect was immediate, and electrifying. Within a matter of hours, Clarence House and the Prince’s Foundation revealed to The Mail on Sunday that Michael Fawcett had stepped down from his role as Chief Executive pending an investigation. The story was followed up around the world. Shortly afterwards, a police investigation was launched to examine whether the law which governs the honours system had been broken. The story is all the more significant because it demonstrates the power of dedicated newspaper reporting. It shone a light on an otherwise shadowy world operating under the auspices of the British establishment. It also raised serious concerns about the judgement of the man who is now our monarch. The story remained prominent for many weeks. Its impact, however, will last much longer. Questions have been raised at the highest levels of the Royal Family and government as to how a Saudi Sheikh was able to buy his way into the heart of the British establishment. And, indeed, the matter is still being examined by the police, with the King’s office expected to reveal the findings of its own investigation in the coming weeks.