The thing which will ultimately “save” Prince Charles is that his current scandals are all complex financial crimes involving tax schemes, suitcases full of cash, shadowy arrangements ensuring access and honours and failed property deals. Charles had plenty of sex scandals in the past, but the sexiest controversy Charles has been involved in recently is accepting those multiple suitcases full of cash. I just worry that younger people won’t even realize how utterly corrupt Charles has been this whole time too. Speaking of, there was yet another horrendous financial story about Charles’s corruption when it comes to his charitably endeavors. I won’t post the whole Times story, but here are the basics:
The Prince of Wales gave an honour to a controversial Tory peer who spent £1.7 million bailing out his failed eco-village in a string of secretive deals being investigated by the charity watchdog. Prince Charles presented Lord Brownlow with the award during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace after accepting millions of pounds in donations from him.
His flagship charity also opened up Dumfries House, his 18th-century country estate in Scotland, for Brownlow’s 50th birthday — a black-tie event involving fireworks, bagpipes and a performance by a celebrity magician — and awarded the businessman’s company a £1.2 million construction contract.
In 2013 Charles, 73, appointed Brownlow as a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation, which manages Dumfries House. Charles had bought the mansion from the Marquess of Bute by taking out a £20 million loan six years earlier. He also acquired a nearby piece of farmland, Knockroon, at a cut-price rate. Charles saw the construction and sale of faux-Georgian homes there as an ideal way of repaying the Dumfries House debt. The development was also supposed to bring jobs and homes to a depressed former mining community and exhibit his values of traditional and sustainable architecture in practice.
There was a severe shortfall in demand: just 31 of 770 homes were built and its value was written down from £15 million to £700,000. By 2015 Hope Homes, the prince’s developer, had withdrawn from the project and a leading Scottish architect, Professor Alan Dunlop, described the prince’s vision as an “imported pastiche” and a “curious mix” of relatively expensive homes dropped into a rural setting that should have never been built. Today plans to complete Knockroon have been abandoned. Residents complain it is a ghost town that Charles rarely visits despite routinely spending weekends entertaining donors and relaxing and unwinding at his nearby estate.
Brownlow incorporated his own property company, Havisham Properties, and started buying homes at Knockroon from a subsidiary of the Prince’s Foundation. Between 2012 and 2017 he spent £1.7 million purchasing 11 properties and converting them into buy-to-lets and a café, according to official documents. The charity did not declare any of the purchases as “related party transactions”. This is a standard measure used to guard against perceived conflicts of interest and to demonstrate that trustees knew that money was going to someone who had existing ties to the charity.
During this period the foundation also awarded Brownlow’s company a series of contracts. In 2015 it gave him an estimated £1.2 million worth of work to build three properties on the estate, which a source said were cottages for staff. In the same year the charity seconded charitable staff to run Da Vinci’s, his company’s café, housed in what was supposed to be Knockroon visitor centre. It also “purchased an item of home furnishing on behalf of Mr Brownlow” which he later repaid, and paid him £8,590 in rent. The following year, accounts state that his company received £715,668 for building the staff homes. The foundation would not say if there was an open competition or tender exercise to award the contracts.
So… again, Charles is lucky that this is so complicated and dry. The basic gist is that Charles once again pursued a relationship with a wealthy man under the auspices of charitable fundraising. Lord Brownlow was added as a trustee to the Prince’s Foundation, which seems like one of the biggest money laundering schemes in the UK. When Charles’s wacky housing development project set his foundation back millions of dollars, Brownlow bought up all of the now cheap properties and, in exchange, Charles gave Brownlow (who is still a foundation trustee) multiple no-bid contracts.
The thing that strikes me is that the Prince’s Foundation must have tens of millions of dollars/Euros just sitting there, not being used. I mean, we’re constantly hearing about how Charles secured millions from this shady Qatari or that scammy Russian, yet Charles’s foundation is also, somehow, always in a constant state of need for additional cash infusions. What’s really going on there?
Photos courtesy of Instar.