Prince Charles: claims Prince of Wales accepted €1m in cash from Qatari sheikh explained - was donation legal?

Prince Charles was questioned over reports that he had accepted a suitcase full of €1 million in cash from a Qatari sheikh

The Sunday Times reported that Prince Charles had been handed the suitcase by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, a Qatari politician and former Prime Minister of Qatar.

The money was one of three charitable donations that Prince Charles reportedly received from Sheikh Hamad.

One other such donation, also of €1 million, was handed to Prince Charles by Sheikh Hamad in Fortnum and Mason carrier bags, according to the Sunday Times.

The three donations were made to Prince Charles between 2011 and 2015.

The occasion involving the suitcase of cash allegedly took place during a meeting between the Prince of Wales and Sheikh Hamad at Clarence House in 2015.

The suitcase was reported to have contained €1 million in €500 notes which was counted by hand by two royal advisors and then collected by Coutts bank.

However, there is no suggestion that Prince Charles acted illegally in any way in accepting the cash.

What has Prince Charles said about the money?

A spokesman for Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’ press office, said: “Charitable donations received from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim were passed immediately to one of the Prince’s charities who carried out the appropriate governance and have assured us that all the correct processes were followed.”

What was the money for?

The Sunday Times reported that the three donations, totalling €3 million (£2,583.000) were deposited into Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF) bank accounts after they had been received.

The PWCF’s mission statement is to provide grants to support and sustain rural communities and to improve the prospects of viability for farm and rural businesses.

It was founded by Prince Charles in 1979 and provides roughly £3 million to local charitable projects annually. The donations made by Sheikh Hamad are therefore equivalent to almost one year of the charity’s expenditure.

Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al ThaniHamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani
Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

Sir Ian Cheshire, chairman of the PWCF, told the Sunday Times: “we have checked into this event in the past, and confirm that the previous trustees of PWCF discussed the governance and donor relationship, (confirming that the donor was a legitimate and verified counterparty) and our auditors signed off on the donation after a specific enquiry during the audit. There was no failure of governance.”

However, Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said: “if the Qatari government wants to make a gift to [Charles’s] foundation, then there are proper ways to do these things rather than handling large sums of cash”.

Who is Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani?

The Qatari politician, known by his initials HBJ, served as Prime Minister of Qatar from April 2007 - June 2013.

He is one of the richest people in the world - estimates of his net worth vary widely, though it is though to be in the billions of pounds.

He was referred to in British tabloids as the man who bought London and his holdings in the capital include The Shard and Harrods.

In 2015, HBJ invoked diplomatic immunity in a UK torture case in which Qatari agents acting on his behalf were alleged to have falsely imprisoned British national Fawaz al-Attiya in Doha.

In 2017, both HBJ and Prince Charles were named in the Paradise Papers leak.