Prince Charles accepted $1.5m cash donation

Prince Charles has denied any wrongdoing after reports the heir to the British throne accepted a suitcase containing €1 million ($1.5 million) in cash from a former Qatari prime minister.

The Prince of Wales has come under fire after the Sunday Times reported he accepted three cash donations from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, totalling more than €3 million ($4.6 million).

The newspaper said the money was handed to Charles at private meetings between 2011 and 2015, including one at the Prince’s royal residence, Clarence House. All of it was reportedly handed over in a canvas bag.

On another occasion, the Sunday Times reported, another $1.5 million was passed in carrier bags from upmarket London department store Fortnum and Mason.

There is no suggestion the payments were illegal.

In a statement on Sunday, Clarence House denied any wrongdoing, stating donations from the sheikh were “passed immediately” to charity.

“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,” it said.

In response to the Sunday Times, Clarence House said it had verified “that the donor was a legitimate and verified counter party … and our auditors signed off on the donation after a specific inquiry during the audit. There was no failure of governance.”

The donations were received by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, which awards grants to causes that “transform lives and build sustainable communities” in education, conservation, health and social inclusion.

At a meeting at Clarence House, two royal advisers reportedly hand-counted the money, said to have been made up of discontinued €500 notes.

According to the royal family’s gift policy, members are banned from accepting gifts of money in connection with an official engagement or duty. They can accept money on behalf of or as a patron of a charity.

The list of official engagements undertaken by working royals, the Court Circular, has no records of Prince Charles’ meetings with the sheikh.

Prince Charles was already facing questions into an alleged cash-for-honours scandal.

Anti-monarchy group Republic made a formal complaint to Metropolitan Police about the heir to the throne and Michael Fawcett last September, following newspaper articles alleging a donor to The Prince’s Foundation was offered help securing a knighthood. At the time Clarence House said the prince had “no knowledge” of the alleged scandal.

The latest questions emerged as Prince Charles represented his mother, the Queen, at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Rwanda at the weekend.

World leaders attending the summit in Kigali range from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Africa are among countries that sent ministers but not heads of government.

The summit was the culmination of meetings late last week that reported some success in efforts to improve the lives of people in the 54-nation bloc that is home to 2.5 billion people.

Those numbers are set to rise with the expected admission into the Commonwealth of the African nations of Togo and Gabon. They have asked to join, despite having no colonial history with Britain.

The Commonwealth comprises mostly former British colonies. Nations such as Mozambique and Rwanda – a former Belgian colony with an Anglophile leader – have previously launched successful bids to join the group.

-with AAP

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