Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have not violated the charity law, regulator says

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The former Sussex Royal foundation of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was approved today by a UK regulator for charitable violations, as the pair criticized ‘baseless’ claims that it had illegally transferred nearly £ 300,000.

Republic, which is campaigning for an elected head of state, had reported the foundations of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince William and Kate Middleton to the Charities Commission in July last year.

The Sussex Royal charity, which later became known as the MWX Foundation before it closed down, received a start-up grant of £ 145,000 from William and Kate’s Royal Foundation.

An additional £ 151,855 was transferred from the Royal Foundation to MWX to provide Harry’s Travalyst Sustainable Travel Program, and was later transferred by MWX to the Travalyst organization.

The Commission considered all transfers of funds to be legal, but also concluded that the MWX Foundation had not properly documented its decisions, in particular with regard to its legal and administrative expenses.

It said trustees made a decision to close the charity just 12 months after it was founded, “ during difficult and unexpected circumstances, ” and that nearly half of the money was spent on legal and administrative costs.

Prince Harry and Meghan at Westminster Abbey on March 9 last year at their last official event before ending royal life

Prince Harry and Meghan at Westminster Abbey on March 9 last year at their last official event before ending royal life

Republic, which is campaigning for an elected head of state, had reported the foundations of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince William and Kate Middleton to the Charities Commission in July 2020.  The four were pictured together in February 2018

Republic, which is campaigning for an elected head of state, had reported the foundations of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince William and Kate Middleton to the Charities Commission in July 2020. The four were pictured together in February 2018

A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said: ‘We are delighted that the Charity Commission has confirmed what we knew from the start: that the MWX Foundation, formerly Sussex Royal, was fully compliant with UK charity laws in the handling and transfer of funds and grants.

“Today’s update completely concludes this review and ultimately underscores both the legitimacy of the former charity and the baselessness of the claims against it.”

Helen Earner, director of regulatory services at the Charity Commission, said the trustees of Harry and Meghan's foundation were `` complying with their duties under charity law. ''

Helen Earner, director of regulatory services at the Charity Commission, said the trustees of Harry and Meghan’s foundation were “ complying with their duties under charity law. ”

Republic had reported the Sussex Foundations and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Commission for alleged “inappropriate use of charity funds, conflicts of interest and lack of independence.”

But the pressure group today offered a lengthy apology on its website, saying that it ‘falsely claimed’ that the transfer of funds was inappropriate and likely illegal, and that it had not contacted the Royal Foundation of Sussex Royal before going to the Commission went and the media.

A spokesman for the Republic said: ‘If we had contacted the organizations directly, we accept that we would have quickly realized that there was nothing inappropriate in their activities.

The Charities Committee has now completed its investigation and determined that all activities of the charities were legal and appropriate.

“We apologize unconditionally to the charities and personally to the Duke of Sussex for our actions and the public damage caused as a result of widespread false claims.”

The Charity Commission found that the transfer of funds to MWX – formerly Sussex Royal: The Foundation – was in accordance with the Royal Foundation’s governance document and allowed under charity law.

The Charity Commission has cleared the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's former Sussex Royal Foundation of charity violations

The Charity Commission has cleared the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s former Sussex Royal Foundation of charity violations

It also found that the transfer of funds from MWX to the non-profit sustainable travel company Travalyst was lawful.

The Commission further found that Travalyst could only receive charity funds for the promotion of sustainable travel, which is a charity by law, and there was no indication that any conflicts of interest between MWX and Travalyst were being improperly managed.

However, the Commission has found that the MWX Foundation has not properly documented its spending decisions.

It said: ‘The Commission found that decisions about expenditure were not sufficiently documented, limiting the ability of the administrators to demonstrate the reasons behind those decisions.

“Failure to properly record decisions is not good practice and is not in accordance with the guidelines of the Charity Commission.”

It noted that the trustees made the decision to close the charity just 12 months after it was founded “ during difficult and unexpected circumstances, ” and that nearly half of the money was spent on legal and administrative costs.

The Charity Commission found that the transfer of funds to MWX Foundation (pictured) - formerly Sussex Royal: The Foundation - was in accordance with the Royal Foundation's governance document and permitted under charity law

The Charity Commission found that the transfer of funds to MWX Foundation (pictured) – formerly Sussex Royal: The Foundation – was in accordance with the Royal Foundation’s governance document and permitted under charity law

Helen Earner, director of regulatory services at the Charity Commission, said: “ In this case, we found that the trustees were complying with their obligations under the charity laws, and that the transfers of funds between different organizations were in accordance with the governance documents of the Charity Commission. charities, where conflicts of interest are properly managed.

However, the MWX Foundation should have done more to document its decisions, especially with regard to the charity’s expenditure on legal and administrative costs.

‘We also notice that a substantial part of the money has been invested in setting up and subsequently settling a charity that was active for a relatively short period of time.

Trustees cannot predict future events when setting up a new charity – circumstances can change after a charity is established.

But before establishing a charity, all trustees should think about the longer term and carefully consider whether a new charity is the best way to achieve the intended goals.

“This helps ensure that start-up costs are offset by longer-term impact.”

A separate case was opened with the Royal Foundation to investigate the decision to transfer money to MWX Foundation.

The Commission found that the Royal Foundation trustees were acting in accordance with the regulator’s guidelines and found no concerns.

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