• Tycoon Mahfouz offered Harry’s HIV charity a huge £1million donation in 2014 
  • Harry’s team feared hints of ‘cash for access’ when Mahfouz demanded meeting
  • Charles’ friends say he was outraged by knighthood offer made by his own aide
  • The friend said Charles knew nothing of aide Michael Fawcett’s activities

Prince Harry severed ties with a Saudi billionaire at the centre of his father’s ‘cash for honours’ probe over concerns about the tycoon’s motives, leaked emails have revealed.

Police are currently investigating whether Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz was offered honours or a path to citizenship in return for donations he made to Prince Charles’ charities.

A formal investigation was launched after The Mail on Sunday’s revelation last September of a letter written by Charles’ aide Michael Fawcett in August 2017 to a representative of Mahfouz.

In his letter to aide Busief Lamlum, Mr Fawcett wrote: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency… I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for citizenship.’

It also offered to upgrade Mahfouz’s CBE ‘for services to charities in the UK’ to a knighthood, or KBE.

Now emails passed to the Times reveal Mahfouz had also offered Harry’s HIV charity Sentebale – which helps children affected by HIV in Lesotho, southern Africa – a huge £1million donation in 2014.

Prince Harry met Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in 2013. The Saudi billionaire donated £50,000 to his charity

Prince Harry met Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in 2013. The Saudi billionaire donated £50,000 to his charity

Speaking days after police launched a formal investigation into the scandal – which centres on The Mail on Sunday’s revelation last September of a letter written by Michael Fawcett in August 2017 to an aide of Mahfouz – the friend said: ‘Charles is adamant that he knew absolutely nothing about Michael Fawcett’s activities.

‘He was absolutely furious and outraged. It was an earthquake. When Charles was first told that The Mail on Sunday had the letter from Michael Fawcett, he didn’t believe it, but once it was established to be true, he was even more furious and demanded something was done about it.

‘It was also a lesson that this must never happen again.’

In his letter to aide Busief Lamlum, Mr Fawcett wrote: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency… I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for citizenship.

‘I can further confirm that we are willing to make [an] application to increase His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.’

The Metropolitan Police are investigating potential offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 following ‘media reporting alleging offers of help were made to secure honours and citizenship for a Saudi national’.

No arrests are thought to have been made.

Mr Fawcett resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation charity in November ahead of an independent investigation that found he had coordinated with ‘fixers’ in a bid to land an honour for a donor.

Mr Mahfouz, who denies any wrongdoing and did not obtain either a knighthood or citizenship, had been granted a CBE ‘for services to charities in the UK’ in 2016 – before the Fawcett letter was sent.

Prince Harry met Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in 2013. The Saudi billionaire donated £50,000 to his charity

Prince Harry met Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in 2013. The Saudi billionaire donated £50,000 to his charity

He received the honour from Charles and, the MoS can reveal, was given a separate award by a Russian society at St James’s Palace, the most senior royal palace in the UK.

The Prince’s Foundation is based at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, and offers education and training programmes in construction and traditional crafts.

The charity has launched a major damage limitation exercise.

One plan is to make more use of Highgrove, the Prince’s Gloucestershire home, for events because Dumfries House is now synonymous with the scandal.

The Mail on Sunday has also learned that Dmitry Leus, a former Russian banker who lost £500,000 when money he had pledged to Dumfries House went missing, has received a letter of apology from Charles’s charity.

Mr Leus gave the money to William Bortrick, the editor of Burke’s Peerage who acted as a middleman for the charity.

The foundation later rejected the donation but the money was never returned to Mr Leus.

Ex-valet who could hold Charles’s fate in his hands faces a Herculean test of loyalty, writes Prince of Wales’s biographer TOM BOWER 

Prince Charles’s fate hangs in the balance, with his smooth accession to the Throne in jeopardy.

Central to his destiny will be the testimony of his former valet. As the long-time Keeper of the Secrets, Michael Fawcett is the only person who can tell the Metropolitan Police whether Charles knew that a Saudi billionaire gave £1.5 million to support the Prince’s charity, eventually in exchange for a written promise that he would be nominated for a KBE.

For more than 40 years, the lives of Charles and Fawcett have been inextricably linked. Known as ‘The Fixer’, Fawcett has been responsible for countless personal arrangements, including loading the Prince’s guns, organising parties and charity fund-raising, and taking special care of Camilla Parker Bowles during and after Charles’s marriage to Diana.

There are few secrets in Charles’s complicated life to which Fawcett is not privy. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he has been distrusted by the Queen, Diana and many courtiers. Accused of bullying and worse in a succession of scandals, he was fired twice, only to be re-hired by Charles, who pleaded that Fawcett was indispensable.

Tom Bower is the author of Rebel Prince, The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles.

Tom Bower is the author of Rebel Prince, The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles.

In truth, Charles was also terrified of making an outsider of Fawcett, the ultimate insider.

Having watched how Paul Burrell, Diana’s one-time valet and ‘rock’, has made a career out of divulging secrets about her life, Charles has been determined to keep Fawcett onside.

If he ever wrote a confessional book, Fawcett would earn at least £20 million. It is no exaggeration to say there are possible parallels between the present case and what happened in 2002 when Burrell was on trial at the Old Bailey, accused of stealing 310 items from Diana’s estate, and from Charles and Prince William.

The case collapsed when it was revealed that Burrell had apparently told the Queen he was keeping some of the Princess’s possessions – and therefore that Her Majesty’s evidence might be relevant. Saving the monarchy’s reputation was clearly considered more important than proceeding with a criminal case.

The evidence against Fawcett, 59, has been widely discussed since a Mail on Sunday investigation last year claimed that he worked with ‘fixers’ to secure an honour for the Saudi tycoon.

Among questions the police will undoubtedly ask Fawcett is who he meant by ‘we’ when he wrote a letter to an aide of the Saudi businessman in 2017, saying that ‘in the light of the ongoing and most recent generosity’ to Charles’s charities by the Saudi, ‘we are willing’ to support his application for British citizenship.

Was Fawcett writing on Charles’s behalf? Certainly, there is mounting circumstantial evidence about the Prince. Without doubt, for 25 years, cash-for-access to Charles was a source of income for his charities, with Fawcett travelling the world to meet billionaires willing to contribute in exchange for meeting the Prince.

Another key figure is Robert Higdon – the chief executive of the Prince’s charity foundation in America – who once crudely confessed: ‘I was the money whore.’

For 14 years, Higdon lured US billionaires to lunches and dinners. He took donations of £250,000 to secure a seat next to Charles, with smaller amounts getting less cherished seats.

Rather than shepherding dozens of starry-eyed Americans into Charles’s presence, Fawcett lured a motley bunch of foreign businessmen and their wives into the Prince’s money-web.

These included controversial billionaires from Russia, Turkey and other eastern outposts who sought respectability by paying to sit with the Prince and receiving a photo of the encounter.

Prince Charles's fate hangs in the balance, with his smooth accession to the Throne in jeopardy

Prince Charles’s fate hangs in the balance, with his smooth accession to the Throne in jeopardy

It is hard to believe that Charles did not ask about the source of the millions raised on his behalf. Indeed, at one such fund-raising event, as guests handed over cheques following a speech by Charles, the pieces of paper were scrutinised by the Prince.

Deeming one cheque to be insufficient, Charles suggested: ‘Another nought?’ The cheque was duly returned and, under the Prince’s watchful gaze, the extra digit was inserted.

A natural corollary of Charles’s close interest in each individual donation – which, after all, formed his charities’ lifeblood – was his impatience with any warnings about the character of some donors.

Charles’s staff feared that any negative advice might lead to their instant dismissal.

That said, there were concerns he was running too many charities. When told by an accountant that a particular charitable project was ‘unaffordable’, Charles famously retorted: ‘I never want to see that man again!’

The challenge for Scotland Yard officers will be to prove that Charles knew of Fawcett’s promise to lobby to ‘increase’ the Saudi donor’s CBE into a KBE.

If Fawcett denies that Charles had any notion about his written promise, any police investigation against the Prince would be stymied. But that could still mean Fawcett facing prosecution.

The test of character for the former footman will be herculean.

Make no mistake, Prince Charles, the Heir to the Throne, finds himself in the firing line and must be praying that his long-time servant remains loyal – and tight-lipped.