Prince Charles received a £1 million donation from al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s wealthy family despite advice from his aides to the contrary, a media report said.
Osama’s half-brothers – Bakr bin Laden and Shafiq – made the payment to the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund (PWCF), The Sunday Times reported.
The heir to the British throne met Bakr at Clarence House in London on October 30, 2013, more than two years after US special forces killed Osama in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, according to the report.
Osama shared his family relations with Bakr and Shafiq through their father – Yemeni-born tycoon Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, who founded the construction conglomerate Bin Ladin Group in Saudi Arabia.
While Osama masterminded the world’s deadliest terror attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, there is nothing to suggest that Bakr or Shafiq was linked to any act of terrorism. But Bakr was detained in 2017 as part of an anti-corruption drive and was released last year.
However, Prince Charles’ advisers were wary of the reputational consequences of receiving donations from the family linked to Osama.
“The fact that a member of the highest level of the British establishment was choosing to broker deals with a name and a family that not only rang alarm bells but abject horror around the world…” The Sunday Times quoted a source as saying.
“I just didn’t feel any member of the British royal family should be involved in that sort of undertaking.”
When there was advice to return the money, Prince Charles was believed to have felt it would be embarrassing to do so, fearing that it could lead to suspicion about the reason.
However, PWCF chair Sir Ian Cheshire sought to put Prince Charles in the clear, insisting that the donation was agreed “wholly” by the five trustees.
“The donation from Sheik Bakr Bin Laden in 2013 was carefully considered by PWCF Trustees at the time,” he told the newspaper, adding that due diligence was undertaken by seeking information from the government and several other sources.
“Any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate,” Sir Cheshire said.
A Clarence House spokeswoman also concurred with him, saying, “the decision to accept (the donation) was taken by the charity’s Trustees alone.”