King’s charity removed from register

13 Apr 2023 News

King Charles III

Buckingham Palace

The Charity Commission has removed an organisation set up by King Charles III from its register after it stopped operating last year.

Children and the Arts, which the King founded as the Prince of Wales Arts and Kids Foundation in 2004, was removed from the charity register on 30 September last year after being dissolved as a company the month before.

The charity, of which the King remained a patron, had referred itself to the Commission in 2021 after becoming embroiled in an ongoing controversy over donations.

Charity closure

Children and the Arts, named the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts between 2007 and 2014, had been planning to close for four years.

In the introduction to the charity’s accounts for the year to September 2019, trustees said they had begun to close down the charity after completing its final year of programme delivery in August that year.

“It is clear from a strategic review of our work that the world in which we operate has significantly changed since the charity first began,” the report said.

“The trustees recognise that the opportunity for the decade ahead is one of direct delivery for children by arts organisations; building on the excellent work we have seen with our partners over recent years.

“The charity’s current delivery model is not best placed to achieve this for the sector who will benefit from a more direct relationship with supporters.”

The charity continued to operate for four years but its income plummeted from more than £1m in 2018-19 to £234,000 in 2019-20 and £64,000 in 2020-21.

Regulator assessment

Despite its semi-inactive state, Children and the Arts referred itself to the Charity Commission in September 2021 after allegations regarding it were made in the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that a member of then-Prince Charles’ staff had doctored a letter from the charity to a Russian donor to the Prince’s Foundation, Dmitry Leus, to obscure the involvement of a third charity, the Mahfouz Foundation.

A Charity Commission spokesperson told Civil Society News this week that it assessed the concerns regarding the charity before allowing it to close down.

“We have gathered and assessed information relating to our regulatory concerns about Children and the Arts, including from its trustees,” they said.

“The trustees stated their intention to dissolve the charity and, following analysis of the information, we concluded that we did not object to this.

“The charity was removed from the register on 30 September 2022 on the basis that it had ceased to exist.”

Other charities being investigated

The Charity Commission has ongoing statutory inquiries into other charities linked to the King including the Mahfouz Foundation and a connected charity, the Burke’s Peerage Foundation. It also has an ongoing compliance case into the Barrowman Foundation, a significant donor to the Prince’s Trust.

“The Commission’s statutory inquiries in relation to the Mahfouz Foundation and Burke’s Peerage Foundation remain ongoing and we intend to report publicly on our findings once our inquiries have concluded,” a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has been investigating the Prince’s Foundation since last year.

“The Metropolitan Police investigation into allegations of offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 is ongoing,” a spokesperson said.

“A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service on 31 October 2022 for early investigative advice and we are in ongoing dialogue whilst the matter is considered.

“We await receipt of their advice. We will not be providing a running commentary on the progress of the investigation.”

OSCR, the Scottish charity regulator, also has an open inquiry into the Prince’s Foundation

Patronages review ongoing

Since Queen Elizabeth II’s passing and King Charles III’s accession last September, the Royal Household has been reviewing the charity patronages both monarchs previously held.

“Following His Majesty the King’s accession, the Royal Household is conducting a review of royal patronage,” a spokesperson said.

“The review will cover the organisations of which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was patron and those organisations to which the King and the Queen Consort were connected through patronage or presidency as Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.”

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