King’s ransoms: An incomplete history of royal money scandals

Prince Charles is embroiled, as we speak, in a particularly uncomfortable 'cash for access' saga. But this is nothing new, says Harry Shukman...

They say success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm, which when you think about it, is much like the royal family’s appetite for blithely walking from scandal to scandal. The latest royal hoo-ha is a perfect example. Michael Fawcett, Prince Charles’s right-hand man, lost his job at the end of last year after being accused of selling a CBE to a Saudi businessman in exchange for £1.5 million in donations to royal charities. The cash was partly used to restore the Castle of Mey, one of Charles’s Scottish properties.

Charles is so close to Fawcett that he once said: “I can manage without just about anyone except Michael.” Fawcett’s roles as valet reportedly included squeezing out toothpaste from a crested silver dispenser onto the royal brush, and holding a vial of the heir’s urine during a doctor’s appointment. One hopes the money for these degrading tasks was worth it, and did something to offset any job-induced daydreams of dusting off the 200-year-old blueprints for a certain French contraption made mostly of wood with a small but significant amount of metal.

Royal scandals involving money, access, and influence date back a long way – we could really begin with Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries – so as an introductory guide, here are the top five sleaziest deals the Windsors have been embroiled in. See you for the next one!

Become a Gentleman’s Journal Member?

Like the Gentleman’s Journal? Why not join the Clubhouse, a special kind of private club where members receive offers and experiences from hand-picked, premium brands. You will also receive invites to exclusive events, the quarterly print magazine delivered directly to your door and your own membership card.

Click here to find out more