Queen's cousin Prince Michael accused of selling access to Vladimir Putin

Prince filmed saying he could be hired to make representations to Kremlin about fake gold company

Prince Michael of Kent was filmed offering investors access to the Kremlin in exchange for personal gain, according to a Sunday Times and Channel 4 investigation. AFP
Prince Michael of Kent was filmed offering investors access to the Kremlin in exchange for personal gain, according to a Sunday Times and Channel 4 investigation. AFP

Prince Michael of Kent has been accused of being willing to profit from his status as a British royal family member by providing access to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Queen Elizabeth II's cousin was filmed by undercover reporters during an online meeting saying he could be hired to make representations to the Kremlin about a fictitious gold company.

His friend Simon Isaacs, the Marquess of Reading, who was also on the Zoom call, described the prince as “Her Majesty's unofficial ambassador to Russia,” the Sunday Times reported. The 78-year-old prince has denied the claims.

But in film shown on a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, the marquess suggested Prince Michael, who speaks fluent Russian, would be able to make representations to Mr Putin on behalf of a fake company set up by undercover reporters.

The marquess told them the prince's services were “confidential”, adding: “We're talking relatively discreetly here because we wouldn't want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons.”

The prince would charge the company around £50,000 ($69,893) for a five-day trip to Russia, the report claimed.

During the meeting, the prince said his connections to the country “could bring some benefit”, adding that the Russian presidency had bestowed on him the Order of Friendship.

“I have never had any close connection before with gold and the idea makes me very happy,” he is reported to have said, in reference to the fake company.

He is also quoted as saying it was “very generous” of the company to pay him $200,000 for his royal endorsement, in a recorded speech using his home at Kensington Palace as a backdrop.

In a strong denial, Prince Michael's office told the newspaper that he did not have a “special relationship” with the Russian president and had not been in contact with Mr Putin for 18 years.

His spokesman said the marquess had “made suggestions which Prince Michael would not have wanted, or been able, to fulfil” during the covertly-recorded meeting.

“As is standard practice, Prince Michael's private secretary made it clear to the company's representatives during their conversations that nothing could proceed without the agreement of the British Embassy and the help of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, of which Prince Michael is patron,” the spokesman said.

The Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are not working members of the royal family but have represented the queen in the past, with an average of 200 engagements a year.

Prince Michael earns a living through a consultancy company he has had for four decades and the couple pay market rent for their home at Kensington Palace.

His father, Prince George, was the fourth son of George V and the brother of George VI, the queen's father.

The marquess said in a statement that he was only trying to facilitate an introduction to his friend Prince Michael. “I made a mistake and over-promised and for that, I am truly regretful,” he said.

Updated: May 9, 2021 06:41 PM

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