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Prince Charles’ longtime aide steps down amid ‘golden visa’ scandal

Prince Charles’ long-time aide Michael Fawcett stepped down as head of the Prince’s charity amid allegations he used his position to help a Saudi billionaire receive a “golden visa.”

Saudi Arabian billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz reportedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to secure the title of honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [CBE], one of the highest accolades for non-British citizens, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

Fawcett was paid to coordinate the title and help Mahfouz receive a “golden visa,” through which he hoped to achieve UK citizenship and residency, the report alleges.

The Prince personally bestowed the award to Mahfouz at a private ceremony in 2016 at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony was not published on the official list of royal engagements, according to The Times.

Mahfouz — who denies any wrongdoing — has been one of the biggest donors to the prince’s charities, and even has a forest named after him, having reportedly donated more than $2 million to help restoration projects at the prince’s estates among other charities. 

The Saudi claims he is an “honorable philanthropist.”

Leaked emails obtained by The Times names Fawcett as the middleman and explicitly shows that the donations were in exchange for the OBE award.

One email between a paid advisor of Mahfouz and William Bortrick, the owner of Burke’s Peerage publication, says the award was  “promised to MBM [Mahfouz Bin Mahfouz] to get the £1.5 million he paid for Dumfries [House] and [The Castle of] Mey,” two of the Prince’s projects, according to The Times.

Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz received the honorary title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire after making donations to Prince Charles’ foundation.
Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Bortrick added “MF [Michael Fawcett] needs to keep to his side of the bargain and sort out the Hon OBE immediately; then assist with citizenship.” 

Fawcett was able to organize a meeting between the Prince and Mahfouz that led to his award.

Fawcett has helped run The Prince Foundation for most of the last decade, the Times reported, and has been described as an “indispensable” aide by the Duke of Wales.

In 2003, the royal aide resigned from Charles’s service following allegations of mismanagement.

The Prince Foundation is an umbrella organization for several charities and projects and educational opportunities centered at  the historic Dumfries House estate in Scotland.

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