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Sunday, July 31, 2022

How do we make the monarchy accountable?

Historically, it has been traditional for British monarchs to use their position to enrich themselves and their retainers by accepting funds from dodgy sources, but is that model sustainable in a modern democracy, albeit that the money is now destined for royal charities instead of personal bank accounts.

Prince Charles has already been involved in controversy for personally accepting €3 million in cash stuffed into bags from a Qatari sheikh during private meetings between 2011 and 2015, which was then handed over to the Princes Foundation. 

According to this report, the gifts from controversial Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani were reportedly bundled into a holdall, a suitcase and Fortnum and Mason carrier bags. Why couldn't he just execute a bank transfer like anybody else? What was it that the Sheikh wanted in return, that the donation has to be in untraceable cash?

And now the Times reports that the Prince of Wales accepted a £1 million payment from the family of Osama bin Laden.

The papers says that Charles secured the money from Bakr bin Laden, the patriarch of the wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq at a meeting at Clarence House in London on October 30, 2013, two years after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan. Both men are half-brothers of Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda who masterminded the September 11 attacks:

The future king agreed to the money despite the initial objections of advisers at Clarence House and the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund (PWCF), where the offering was donated.

According to sources, several of Charles’s advisers, including at least one trustee, pleaded with him in person to return the money.

One of his household staff said it would cause national outrage if the news leaked to the media. They told the prince that “it would not be good for anybody” if it emerged that he had accepted money from the family of the perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in history.

A second adviser also urged the prince to return the money. They told the prince he would suffer serious reputational damage if his name appeared in the same sentence as the terrorist, who was responsible for the murder of 67 Britons alongside thousands of Americans on 9/11.

One source said: “The fact that a member of the highest level of the British establishment was choosing to broker deals with a name and a family that not only rang alarm bells, but abject horror around the world . . . why would you do this? What good reason is there to do this?”

They added: “I just didn’t feel any member of the British royal family should be involved in that sort of undertaking.”

Another palace insider said the “great fear” was that the payment would undermine Charles and the charity’s reputation, saying: “There are other sources of money in the world.”

However, Charles was said to have felt it would be too embarrassing to hand the money back to the brothers and feared that they would suspect the reason. It is understood that one household staff member believes they were “very vociferous” with the prince but were “shouted down”. Another adviser to Charles is said to have implored the prince to return the money. Their words caused “great” concern in the palace, but were apparently ignored.

Such poor judgement in a future monarch is of course, very concerning. But that is what happens when you have a head of state that is unaccountable to the people s/he presides over. If nothing else, these latest incidents underline the need to abolish the monarchy altogether and introduce an elected presidency in its place.

What grounds do you have for suggesting that the bin Laden money is dodgy? Osama was the black sheep of the family, it should be remembered.

I didnt say the money was dodgy, I said that Charles showed poor judgement in accepting both lots of money, and failed to take account the wider implications of doing so
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