The File on Charlie Windsor
The Prince of Dubious DealsCharlie Windsor is given almost £20m in spending money each year by the British people. But that's still not enough for the avaricious "prince".
So dubious people and dubious practices have found a welcome in the Windsor household.
If your reputation was not the best but you were loaded with money Charlie was able to sprinkle you with some of his strange glamour.
Turkish billionaire Cem Uzan wanted to improve his public image. He told PR consultants Bell Pottinger that he was wiling to pay well for help with this. They introduced him to Charlie's assistant private secretary, who put him in touch with Windsor valet Michael Fawcett.
It was not long before Uzan's wife Alar found herself sitting next to Charlie at a dinner in celebration of the foundation of one of his charities. The price was steep - £200,000. But on Web sites around the world pictures appeared of the Turkish couple in company with one of the biggest big shots in the British establishment.
A year later Mr Uzan was again a guest of the prince as he mingled with 120 super-rich Americans in the Buckingham Palace picture gallery. And his wife was again next to Charlie when dinner was served.
The following day the Turkish couple were entertained by international stars as they dined with Charlie at his Highgrove home.
The Uzans were invited back for a five-day get together with the kings of Jordan and Greece. All that was asked was a $20,000 fee and a further donation. In return they dined in a palace ballroom, had lunch at a polo game, knocked back some drinks with Windsor clan members and spent a day at the races.
We do not know whether Charlie knew that in 2001 Uzan was being investigated for racketeering, while two US companies were trying to retrieve $2.7b from his Turkish friend. But by 2003 Uzan had been sentenced in absentia to imprisonment in the UK and USA on fraud charges.
Nobody in Buckingham Palace had dared to object. They knew that the avaricious prince would ignore them. The phrase "rent-a-royal" became popular in family circles but Charlie rejected advice on how he should properly deal with donors.
Eventually the government insisted that things change. Charlie could no longer sell seats at his table to the highest bidder. Instead a table was sold for a flat-rate £20,00. Plus a tacit understanding that a large donation would be made.
Payment In Kind
Charlie took payment in kind as well as money. He would ask rich American friends for the use of their personal jets so that he need not be inconvenienced by taking commercial trans-Atlantic flights. In return the rich "friend" would be granted access to "royal" events.
Free holidays and cruises were also available to the son of the hereditary head of state, no matter what the intentions of the gift-giver might be.
In 1998 Charlie hosted a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a Spanish tile company. The company had made a donation to one of Charlie's charities. The founder of the company was allowed to host a 250-person dinner at Buckingham Palace. In photographs of the dinner published in ¡Hola! Magazine Charlie seemed to be advertising the Spanish company's tiles.
Referring to the company's founder Charlie said "Ask Manuel if I made him look good". Manuel's company later provided tiles for Charlie and members of his family. After Charlie opened a new factory building for the company it kindly installed an "Islamic" garden at Charlie's Highgrove home.
Embed from Getty Images Highgrove House
A company director said "We gave the garden to him, and he repaid us with a dinner for our clients". The company founder also received an invitation to a Windsor family wedding.
In general the richest person was placed closest to Charlie at dinner so that he could more easily make his request for money. If there were two guests who had made substantial donations the one who had given more could expect to be elbow to elbow with Charlie.
Guests could be given a "pledge card" on which to write the amount they would donate. Charlie would make a show of looking at each card as it was given to him, thereby putting pressure on others to increase their pledge.
After an American donor had given a speech about homelessness Charlie complained that the man had not given enough money to be entitled to speak at his functions.
No expense was spared for Charlie's money-raising events. For a dinner for donors in Hong Kong a set of 18th century china and glasses was sent from the UK, as well as bells for Charlie to call his staff.
The death of Charlie's grandmother in 2002 should have generated a large amount of inheritance tax on jewellery, works of art and antiques. But the family told the Inland Revenue that she had everything to her daughter and grandchildren in 1993, eliminating any tax liability. Embed from Getty Images Charlie with grandmother
When the jewellery was found still to be in the dead woman's cupboards the Revenue had doubts about the claim that she had given it away. But deference to the feudal faimily won out and the claim that no tax was due was not questioned.
And Charlie avoided paying taxes in small ways as well as big. Despite his hugh wealth taken from the people of the UK his wife's expenses, including haircuts, clothes and jewellery, were claimed as tax-deductible.
The Duchy of CornwallThe Duchy is Charlie's main source of wealth.
The National Audit Office has found "obscurities and potential conflicts of interest" in its sparse accounts. The Public Accounts Committee decided to look into this. One matter of interest was a circular transaction involving the sale by Charlie to the Duchy of trees worth £2.3m. The money went into his pocket without payment of tax, although the trees had been planted by the Duchy for Charlie.
Charlie's people were also found to have moved money from the Duchy's capital account to its revenue account without explanation. This gave Charlie more to spend as he pleased.
Ninety four of the Duchy's 124 employees were classed as "official employees" so that their cost could be claimed as a tax-deductible expense.
Charlie's secretary Michael Peat told MPs that the Duchy's arrangements had been kept secret for 700 years and the British people had no right to know them. He was supported in this by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.
By 2013 the Public Accounts Committee was asking for an explanation for the corporation and capital gains tax exemptions that the Duchy benefited from. Soon after Charlie invoked the Human Rights Act to prevent disclosure of his tax returns.
At one time Charlie had 24 charities to his name. While some were short of money the Prince's Trust had a fine headquarters building, 300 staff and high administrative costs.
New charities have been created on a whim even though one already existed doing much the same work.
In 2010 his Foundation for Integrated Health was closed following the arrest of a former employee in a fraud investigation.
The downfall of the charity began when auditors queried its accounts. Subsequently the police made two arrests on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. The accounts for 2007 showed an operating deficit of £62,000.
Another of Mr. Windsor's charities, The Foundation for the Built Environment, was criticised in 2009 for its involvement with Windsor's interference in the redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks site in London. The man born to be head of state used his relationship with the feudal rulers of Qatar to block a plan that featured modern architecture. The land is owned by that country's sovereign wealth fund.
In 2000 an employment tribunal found that another Windsor charity, the Prince's Trust, had unfairly sacked an employee. He had complained that he had been picked upon and shunned by other employees because he is black.
A scheme to prepare unemployed young people for work run by the same Trust was found by the Adult Learning Inspectorate in 2004 to be failing to provide useful workplace skills. The inspectors described the training as "inadequate" and "unsatisfactory".
In 2007 Charlie decided to buy, without viewing it first, a dilapidated mansion in a Scottish coalfield, Dumfries House. The cost was £43m. So Charlie set up a new charity which promptly borrowed £40m.
Potential donors from multiple countries were encouraged by offers to dine with Charlie or have a room in the mansion named after them.
The mansion was used as an hotel and for weddings and conferences. Guests at this charitable hotel were tended to by servants who unpacked their bags and ironed their clothes.
The Russian Connection
In 2019 it was revealed by the Guardian that Charlie Windsor has accepted donations totalling $200,000 from Russian banker Ruben Vardanyan to help pay for the restoration of Dumfries House.
According to the Guardian the first "payment came not from Vardanyan's personal account, but was transferred from an account at Ukio Bank in Lithuania belonging to a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands - Quantus Division Ltd".
Quantus moved over $700m into the world banking system between 2006 and 2013 when Ukio became insolvent and was shut down.
Also according to the Guardian Vardanyan is "A well-known philanthropist, he ran an investment bank, Troika Dialog, an independent arm of which moved vast amounts of private wealth out of Russia into Europe".
"Troika is under the spotlight" said the Guardian, "because staff from this independent division administered a network of shell companies that appear to have mixed legitimate and illegitimate money".
"Vardanyan didn't know anything about this" the Guardian stressed. "Neither did Prince Charles. There is no criticism of either of them".
Windsor used the money to help repay a £20m loan for the purchase of the stately pile.
Vardanyan arranged another £1.5m from himself and other Russians through a UK charity to refurbish an estate outbuilding with luxury accommodation for visitors.
> How Prince Charles's stately home restoration linked him to Russian money
> Banking leak exposes Russian network with link to Prince Charles
If anyone ever suggests that Charlie is making a mistake in the management of his charaitie he looks for someone who will agree with him. He enjoys the reputation of a man with many charities.
Acknowledgements: Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles Tom Bower.