Charity Commission reviews Qatari sheikh's £2.6m donations to Prince Charles

Official probe could follow after former Qatari PM handed shopping bags stuffed with banknotes to Britain's future king

Britain's Prince Charles with Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani on an official visit to Doha in March 2013. PA
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Britain’s Prince Charles is facing a potential probe of his charitable foundation by a government regulator after accepting £2.6 million ($3.2m, €3m) in bags of cash from a leading Qatari politician.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani handed over wads of €500 notes to Prince Charles at private meetings between 2011 and 2015, The Sunday Times reported. The newspaper did not allege any illegal act.

Sheikh Hamad served as prime minister of the oil-rich Gulf nation from 2007 to 2013 and foreign minister from 1992 to 2013.

On one occasion he donated the cash in a suitcase and on another in shopping bags from London’s Fortnum & Mason department store. The newspaper said the money was deposited into the accounts of the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

Prince Charles’ office, Clarence House, acknowledged the donations but said there was no wrongdoing.

A Clarence House statement said the money was “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”.

Prince Charles shakes hands with then-Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani at his residence outside Doha, Qatar, in March 2013. PA

The prince’s charitable fund told the newspaper it had verified “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.”

The Charity Commission, the government body which regulates charities in England and Wales, said a review of the donated money would be undertaken before officials decide whether to proceed with an investigation.

“We are aware of reports about donations received by The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation," it said. "We will review the information to determine whether there is any role for the Commission in this matter.”

Qatar’s government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During his tenure as prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad oversaw the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, which has major property investments in cities around the world, including London. Qatar has huge stakes in the Shard skyscraper, Heathrow Airport and Harrods in Knightsbridge

The bags of cash came to light as police in London investigate a separate allegation that people associated with another of the Prince Charles' charities, the Prince’s Foundation, offered to help a Saudi Arabian billionaire secure honours and British citizenship in return for donations.

Clarence House has said Prince Charles had no knowledge of any such offer.

Updated: June 27, 2022, 10:45 AM