Britain’s Prince Andrew was given £1.5 million ($2 million) by a millionaire friend, days after borrowing a similar amount from a Luxembourg private bank controlled by the businessman’s family.
David Rowland, one of the biggest donors for the UK’s Conservative Party, transferred the cash to a London bank account at Banque Havilland SA held by Queen Elizabeth II’s second son in December 2017.
The money was earmarked for repayment of the loan from Banque Havilland that the royal had taken out just 11 days earlier.
The transactions were revealed by two people with direct knowledge of the process who spoke anonymously to Bloomberg News. They provided bank documents as proof.
The revelations offer a unique insight into the lavish lifestyle of the Duke of York, who stepped down from public duties in November 2019 following a backlash over his response to sexual allegations against his former friend Jeffrey Epstein.
For years, the British public have questioned how Prince Andrew, ninth in line to the throne, could afford to lead such a luxurious life on a relatively modest stipend.
The bank loan and transfer raise new questions about the potential conflicts created by the prince’s social circle.
Prince Andrew's connections had opened doors for Mr Rowland and his family for more than a decade before he was able to borrow the money despite a warning from Banque Havilland staff that the loan was “not in line with the risk appetite of the bank”, an internal credit application shows.
The bank rarely, if ever, made unsecured loans to clients, former employees said.
This one was approved in part because it opened up “further business potential with the Royal Family”, a note on the same document said.
“While the (increased) loan is unsecured and granted solely against the credibility of the applicant, both his position and that his mother is the sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom should provide access to funds for repayment if need be.”
The November 2017 Banque Havilland loan, which carried an 8 per cent interest rate, replaced an existing £1.25-million facility that had been extended or increased 10 times since 2015, most recently that March.
The additional £250,000 borrowed by Andrew was earmarked for “general working capital and living expenses”.
The loan was due in March 2018 but was repaid early using £1,503,000 transferred to the prince from a company registered in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands.
The business, Albany Reserves, is controlled by the Rowland family, according to one of the sources who spoke to Bloomberg News.
Documents show the money was routed through a Banque Havilland account belonging to Albany Reserves.
The account was one of about 70 that the Rowland family opened at Banque Havilland over the years, according to one of the sources.
David Rowland is listed as a director of Albany Reserves, company filings show.
A representative for Prince Andrew declined to comment about the transactions.
The duke “is entitled to a degree of privacy in conducting his entirely legitimate, personal financial affairs, on which all appropriate accounting measures are undertaken and all taxes duly paid”, the representative said.
A spokesman for Banque Havilland said he could not comment about customers.
When contacted for comment, Mr Rowland did not respond to emails and text messages.
Norman Baker, a former British government minister and author of a book on the British royal family’s finances, called for a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
“This demonstrates yet again that significant questions need to be asked about Prince Andrew’s business dealings,” said Mr Baker.
“Parliament should investigate this matter with some urgency.”
Mr Rowland and his son Jonathan are reported to have capitalised on their friendship with Prince Andrew by introducing themselves as investment advisers to the prince and the royal family, according to Bloomberg News.
The pair accompanied the Duke of York on an official trip to China when he served as the UK’s special representative for trade.
Jonathan Rowland said in an email that he left the bank in 2013.