Police probe cash-for-honors deal tied to prince’s charity

LONDON (AP) — London police have launched an investigation into allegations that people associated with one of Prince Charles’ charities offered to help a Saudi billionaire secure honors and citizenship in return for donations.

The investigation followed a series of stories in the Times of London, which reported that a long-time aide to Charles helped to secure the prince’s support for a Saudi citizen to receive a knighthood and British citizenship in return for donations of as much as 1.5 million pounds ($2 million).

The Metropolitan Police Service said Wednesday that it decided to open a formal investigation after assessing the media reports, reviewing the findings of an inquiry commissioned by the Prince’s Foundation and looking at documents provided by the foundation. No one has been arrested, police said in a statement.

Charles’ office, Clarence House, said there was no evidence to back up the claims. The prince will cooperate with any investigation.

“The Prince of Wales had no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities,” Clarence House said.

The investigation comes at a difficult time for Britain’s royal family. Prince Charles’ younger brother, Prince Andrew, on Tuesday agreed to an out-of-court settlement with a woman who alleged she had been forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17.

Andrew, who denies the allegations, is under pressure to disclose how he will pay the settlement that some analysts suggest could exceed $10 million.

The inquiry commissioned by the Prince’s Foundation, which is focused on preserving Dumfries House, an 18th-century estate in Scotland, found evidence of communication and coordination between the charity’s then-chief executive and “fixers” working to secure honors for a donor. The events took place from 2014 to 2018, and the man at the center of the allegations resigned last year.

“The board of trustees is determined that lessons will be learned to ensure that, in future, our charity maintains the highest standards in all areas and always acts with integrity and probity,” the foundation said in an undated statement on its website.