An undercover investigation in the UK accused Prince Michael of Kent, a first cousin of the Queen, of selling his ability to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin and using his royal status for personal gain.
The investigation was carried out jointly by Channel 4’s Dispatches program and The Sunday Times. The show, called “Dispatches: Royals for Hire,” will be broadcast on Channel 4 tomorrow at 7.30pm.
The undercover journalists created a fake South Korean gold firm called House of Haedong, and were told Prince Michael could make “confidential” representations to Putin’s government – for a fee of £10,000 a day.
Prince Michael, 78, told them that he would give the House of Haedong a royal endorsement in a speech that would cost the firm $200,000. He added that he would allow them to use his home in Kensington Palace as the backdrop for the recorded speech.
He was also asked if he could help the House of Haedong in Russia.
Unlike core members of the Royal Family, Prince Michael does not receive money from the civil list – which is an annual grant from taxpayers’ money that funds certain aspects of Royal Family performing their duties.
Instead, Prince Michael is chairman of his own private consultancy company, and that is how he earns his income.
The Dispatches documentary added that in 2013, Prince Michael’s business partner Lord Simon Reading attempted to sell access to Putin at an event in Kensington Palace that included an offer to meet Putin in person in the future.
Prince Michael was a guest at this event, which was set up to promote Sambo, a Russian wrestling sport.
The undercover journalists recorded Lord Reading saying: “If he [Prince Michael] is representing the House of Haedong, he could mention that to Putin and Putin would find the right person who is interested in South Korea or interested in gold. It just opens the door, you know, which is so helpful.”
Lord Reading added: “I think, if I can say this, this is kind of slightly discreet, we’re talking relatively discreetly here. Because we wouldn’t want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons, if you follow me.”
He also said that Prince Michael was “Her Majesty’s unofficial ambassador to Russia” and that recent UK-Russia tensions had not impacted Prince Michael’s relationship with Putin.
Prince Michael’s office told the Press Association in response to the allegations: “Prince Michael receives no public funding and earns his own living through a consultancy company that he has run for over 40 years.
“Prince Michael has no special relationship with President Putin. They last met in June 2003 and Prince Michael has had no contact with him or his office since then.
“Lord Reading is a good friend, who in trying to help, made suggestions which Prince Michael would not have wanted, or been able, to fulfil.”
Lord Reading told the Press Association: “I thought the approach from the House of Haedong was genuine and I was only trying to facilitate an introduction to my friend Prince Michael.
“I made a mistake and over-promised and for that, I am truly regretful. I wasn’t at my peak as I was recovering from a kidney transplant.
“For the record, the Sambo event which was eight years ago was my event and Prince Michael was simply my guest along with many other people.”
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