Sussex Royal cleared over claims that it misused charity funds

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L), and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex - Justin Tallis/AFP
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L), and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex - Justin Tallis/AFP

The Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ philanthropic foundation has been cleared of breaking rules but the regulator warned trustees to think twice about whether setting up a new charity was necessary.

The Charity Commission was asked to review the way funds were transferred between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation, Sussex Royal and Travalyst, Prince Harry’s sustainable travel project.

The regulator found they had not acted outside charity law.

Republic, the anti-monarchy campaign group, apologised to the Sussexes for the "public damage" it had caused in raising concerns about the "inappropriate use" of funds.

"If we had contacted the organisations directly, we accept we would have realised quickly that there was nothing improper in their operations, it said.

The Charity Commission examined nearly £300,000 of grants, including £145,000 given by the Royal Foundation to Sussex Royal to fund its launch in 2019 and a further £150,000 to deliver Travalyst’s programme.

Sussex Royal, which later changed its name to the MWX Foundation, in turn transferred the funds to Travalyst.

The regulator found that almost half of MWX Foundation’s funds were spent on legal and administrative costs after it was closed down in “difficult and unexpected circumstances” just 12 months after it was established, when the Sussexes stepped back from official duties.

It said the spending was not unreasonable given the “unexpected events and unique circumstance which surrounded this charity” and as such did not consider further action required.

But Helen Earner, director of regulatory services, suggested that the substantial costs incurred in setting up and winding down charities should have been considered by trustees when Sussex Royal was set up in 2019, just months before the couple relocated abroad.

She said: “The MWX Foundation should have done more to document its decisions, especially regarding the charity’s expenditure on legal and administrative costs.

“We also note that a substantial proportion of funds went into setting up and then winding up a charity that was active for a relatively short period of time.

“Trustees cannot predict future events when establishing a new charity – circumstances can change after a charity has been set up.

“But all trustees, before setting up a charity, should think about the longer term, and consider carefully whether a new charity is the best way of achieving the intended aims. This helps ensure that set up costs are offset by longer-term impact.”

A source close to the Sussexes insisted that closing down the charity had never been the intention and was “caused by circumstances outside their control.”

The couple’s team is understood to have felt it necessary to seek legal advice every step of the way due to the intense public scrutiny to avoid even greater criticism.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting