LONDON (NYTIMES) - Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, faced new scrutiny over the financing of his charities on Saturday (July 30) after a report found that one organisation had accepted a donation of 1 million pounds (S$1.68 million) from the family of Osama bin Laden.
As first reported by The Sunday Times of London, The Prince of Wales' Charitable Fund received the donation in 2013 from brothers Bakr and Shafiq bin Laden, half brothers of Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaida and architect of 9/11.
News of the payment follows a series of recent royal scandals, including a report in June that Charles had accepted US$3.1 million in cash donations from a Qatari billionaire between 2011 and 2015, some of which was received personally in a suitcase and shopping bags.
The bin Ladens are a powerful Saudi family, whose multinational construction business and close ties to the Saudi royal family have made them extremely wealthy.
There is, however, no suggestion that either Bakr or Shafiq bin Laden has sponsored, supported or been involved in any acts of terrorism. And the family disowned Osama bin Laden in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his extremist activities.
On Saturday, Clarence House, the prince's official office and residence, confirmed that the bin Laden brothers had given the money to the royal charity but disputed reports that Charles had brokered the deal or made the decision personally to accept it.
"The Prince of Wales' Charitable Fund has assured us that thorough due diligence was undertaken in accepting this donation," read a statement released by Clarence House. "The decision to accept was taken by the charity's trustees alone and any attempt to characterise it otherwise is false."
But The Sunday Times reported that Charles had brokered the payment after a private meeting with Bakr bin Laden at Clarence House in London on October 30, 2013, two years after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan.
The paper also reported that the heir to the throne had agreed to accept the donation despite the vocal objections of his own advisers.
A royal official, unauthorised to speak publicly, denied that the prince accepted the donation, negotiated the deal or was advised to return the money.
The Sunday Times reported that some of the prince's aides had warned Charles of the inevitable blowback should it became known that his charity had accepted money from the family of the man who orchestrated the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, including 67 Britons.
Founded in 1979, The Prince of Wales' Charitable Fund says its mission is "to transform lives and build sustainable communities by awarding grants to a wide range of good causes within our core funding themes: heritage and conservation, education, health and well-being, social inclusion, environment and countryside".