An undercover investigation has claimed prince Michael Franklin of Kent was willing to use his royal status for personal profit, and to seek favours from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The queen’s cousin told undercover reporters posing as investors from South Korea in a virtual meeting that he could be hired for £10,000 a day to make “confidential” representations to Putin’s regime.
The revelation was made by Channel 4 Dispatches in collaboration with the Sunday Times, who set up a fake South Korean gold company called House of Haedong and approached five members of the royal family with an offer of a role.
Franklin responded showing interest in working with the company, telling undercover reporters that he would give House of Haedong his royal endorsement in a recorded speech for a $200,000 fee and was happy to use his home in Kensington Palace as a backdrop.
Franklin does not receive money from the civil list and earns a living acting as chairman of his own private company, which offers consultancy advice.
He was also approached about a role helping the fictitious gold firm in Russia.
A Royal scandal
The programme said his business partner lord Simon Reading had used an event at Kensington Palace in 2013, in which Franklin was a guest, to sell access to Putin. The event, to promote the Russian wrestling sport of Sambo, also offered opportunities to personally meet the Russian leader at a later date, Dispatches found.
In a recorded meeting with the undercover reporters, Reading said:
If he [Franklin] 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.
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 went on to describe Franklin as (emphasis added) “Her Majesty’s unofficial ambassador to Russia”, and that tension between the UK and the Russian regime has not affected his relationship with Putin.
“No public funding”
Responding to the programme’s allegations, Franklin’s office said:
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.
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.
Dispatches: Royals for Hire, will broadcast at 7.30pm on 10 May on Channel 4.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?