The temptation remains so irresistible as to risk public humiliation. In both directions. Both for those who want to add an honorary title to their business card and for those who use the system to generate cash. The butler who chose the suit and shirt to wear each morning for Charles of England, Michael Fawcett, has temporarily resigned from his position as executive director of the prince’s foundation while an investigation clarifies whether he interceded on behalf of his boss to grant honors, and even British nationality, to a Saudi multimillionaire businessman.
The research has been published by The Sunday Times and adds another embarrassing note to the behavior of the British royal family. Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, for his part, has chosen, also temporarily, to withdraw from the website of the Mahfouz Foundation, created in 2012 to “promote the knowledge of the British public of the history, culture, language and literature of the Middle East ”, The photographs in which the heir to the crown gave him the honorary title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE, in its acronym in English). It was in 2016, after the businessman donated 1.75 million euros for the restoration projects of two historic buildings for which Charles of England has a special passion: Dumfries House, a country house in Ayrshire (Scotland), and the Castle of Mey.
The enthusiasm for the Saudi millionaire Fawcett, whom connoisseurs of the arcane world of Windsor have always referred to as the achiever of Charles of England, led him to commit to collaborating so that Mahfouz could achieve British citizenship, and even improve his title. of CBE with the concession of the gentleman, to be able to sign with the sir in front of your name. Neither thing, in any case, ever happened. It is the third time Fawcett has been forced to resign to protect his employer’s reputation and master. On the two previous occasions —One of them, after he was accused of workplace harassment, had no problem returning to Carlos’ service. It has been said of him that the level of confidence reached the point that he was in charge, every night, of putting the exact dose of toothpaste on the Prince of Wales’ toothbrush. Lady Di was aware of all this, and the first thing she did when she barricaded herself in Kensington Palace was to change the lock to prevent Fawcett from entering.
In the same way that Carlos de Inglaterra’s environment has always tried to convey the feeling that he remains outside the collection processes of his foundations, all the institutions allegedly involved in the matter have distanced themselves. “The administrators have already ordered an independent investigation by an external auditor,” the prince’s foundation assured in a public statement. “All honorary title appointments go through the same rigorous scrutiny and examination, to prove the merits of each case,” the British Foreign Office has said. In this second statement lies the explanation that this whole matter is especially murky. Although all the titles come from an original source that gives them a special relevance, Queen Elizabeth II, it is actually in the hands of the Government of the day to grant them. And that is why any maneuver to facilitate them, no matter how legitimate, smells like an exchange of favors.
There are several prime ministers, conservatives and Labor, who have tried to provide greater transparency and simplicity to a trade in titles that has always aroused the suspicion of being based more on influence, power and contacts than on merit and contribution to society. With little success in their endeavor, because, paradoxically, the entire troop of senior officials through whose hands the selection process has passed ultimately aspires to benefit themselves with some degree. And that’s why they want them high-sounding and incomprehensible. When the Queen handed over to the then Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1966 a four-page document drawn up by her husband, Philip of Edinburgh, the establishment he put his hands on his head. The Duke of Edinburgh, always in the role of provocative upstart, suggested getting rid of the terminology surrounding the Order of the British Empire, because there was little left of empire, to say nothing.
Laurence Helsby, who held the position of head of the Home Civil Service (the prestigious British body of high officials), dismissed the idea as too expensive, and justified the maintenance of the titles with exquisite cynicism: “The less relation to reality the name of an order has, the better; and the more the empire disappears in the sands of time, the easier it will be to retain the name, “he explained. That helps to understand that a Saudi billionaire has removed his contacts, and paid astronomical commissions to dubious mediators, to add to his business card the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In fact, his photos with Carlos de Inglaterra have been able to disappear from the website of the Mahfouz Foundation, but the initials CBE remain visible to present his main patron.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.