The working mother entrusted with Charles’ charity amid donor scandal: How loyal exec deemed a ‘safe pair of hands’ stepped in after Michael Fawcett’s departure to take control of the Prince’s Foundation

  • Emily Anne Cherrington, 38, is the Prince’s Foundation chief operating officer
  • She has been acting chief executive since Mr Fawcett temporarily stepped down
  • Mother-of-two married to James and lives in Market Harborough, Leicestershire 
  • Michael Fawcett dramatically quit last night over the ‘cash for honours’ inquiry
  • It follows reports he offered to help billionaire Saudi donor to secure knighthood 

The woman standing in for Michael Fawcett at the Prince’s Foundation following his resignation is a working mother-of-two described as a ‘safe pair of hands’.

Emily Anne Cherrington, 38, has been acting chief executive of the Dumfries House-based organisation since Mr Fawcett temporarily stepped down in early September.

It comes after reports that Charles’s ex-valet Mr Fawcett offered to help a billionaire Saudi donor to the prince’s charity secure a knighthood and British citizenship. 

Mrs Cherrington is married to husband James with whom she has a son and a daughter, and they live in the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. 

She has been with the charity for more than four years, having joined in May 2017 as senior deputy executive director and then being appointed COO in January 2020.  

She is said to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ and sources at the Prince’s Foundation told MailOnline she would ‘continue’ in this role while an investigation is carried out.

The confirmation comes after 59-year-old Mr Fawcett, who was Charles’s right-hand man, dramatically quit last night over the ‘cash for honours’ inquiry.

Emily Anne Cherrington, 38, is the acting chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation

Michael Fawcett (right, in 2019) was seen as the man Prince Charles could not live without

The Daily Mail understands Mr Fawcett is not seeking to preempt an official investigation into the claims, which has yet to report back.

But Mrs Cherrington has been assuming Mr Fawcett’s responsibilities at the for the London-based organisation during the probe and will continue to do so.

Footman to top man: The rise and fall of Prince Charles’ aide Michael Fawcett 

1981: As a teenager, Michael Fawcett lands a job as junior footman to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. He later moves to Kensington Palace as assistant valet to Prince Charles, who is setting up home with Diana.

1990: He is reportedly trusted to squeeze toothpaste on to Charles’s brush when the prince broke an arm playing polo.

1992: When the royal couple separate, Diana has the locks of the marital apartment changed to keep out Fawcett, who pinned his loyalties to Charles.

1998: Three members of palace staff go to the prince to complain about Fawcett’s allegedly overbearing and bullying manner, and he quits. But his resignation leaves Charles in tears and he is reinstated and promoted within a week.

2000: Fawcett is appointed a Member of the Victorian Order by the Prince in the New Year’s Honours – an honour normally reserved for Royal Household members.

2003: He is again forced out for supposedly selling on behalf of Charles gifts the prince did not want. An internal inquiry clears him of any financial misconduct. He resigns but the prince rewards him with a £500,000 severance packet. Fawcett sets up a private events company, Premier Mode.

2005: Premier Mode organises Charles and Camilla’s wedding party.

2017: Fawcett joins the board of A G Carrick, a company Charles set up to sell mementoes at his Highgrove shop. Fawcett also runs the trust set up to run Prince Charles’s pet project, Dumfries House.

2018: Fawcett is appointed to a £95,000-a-year role as chief executive of Charles’s charity, The Prince’s Foundation.

2021: It is alleged that Fawcett fixed a CBE for a Saudi billionaire who had donated more than £1.5 million to royal charities. Fawcett resigns for the third time. 

The mother grew up in the Lincolnshire village of Kirkby Underwood, near Bourne.

It comes as Mr Fawcett has resigned from his post as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, with friends saying he is ‘heartbroken’ and ‘shattered’ by events.

Mr Fawcett, who rose to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the future king’s court, has also had his private contract to organise events for Charles severed.

Friends say the scandal has had a ‘devastating’ effect on Mr Fawcett, and he has only now felt well enough to make a decision about his future.

The friend said: ‘Michael has resigned and he will never be coming back. He has lost five stone in weight and is a shadow of his former self.’

A spokesman for The Prince’s Foundation confirmed: ‘Michael Fawcett has resigned from his post as CEO of The Prince’s Foundation.’

Clarence House told the Mail it was cutting ties with Mr Fawcett on a personal basis and would not work with his events company, Premier Mode, again, sealing his catastrophic fall from grace.

A spokesman said: ‘Michael Fawcett and Premier Mode will not be providing services to us in the future. We have all agreed to end these arrangements.’

For the best part of four decades, Mr Fawcett was the man Charles famously could not live without.

But he was dogged by controversy and was twice forced to resign after being accused of bullying staff and selling unwanted royal gifts.

On both occasions he was reinstated and Premier Mode was later awarded a lucrative contract by the prince to organise most of his official and private entertaining.

In 2007, Mr Fawcett was made chief executive of Scotland’s Dumfries House, a stately home Charles helped save for the nation which has since been turned into a community facility and hub for his considerable charitable activities.

In 2018, following a reorganisation of those charities, Mr Fawcett was appointed as £95,000-a-year chief executive of the newly created The Prince’s Foundation, much to the surprise – and concern – of some current and former household staff.

Mr Fawcett set about becoming a ‘fundraiser extraordinaire’, raising millions to support the prince’s philanthropic work every year.

However, it was his success in drumming up multi-million-pound donations which led to his downfall.

Earlier this autumn, questions were raised over Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who received an honorary CBE personally from Charles in 2016.

Michael Fawcett, 59, is pictured outside his home in South West London on Sunday

He had donated £1.5 million, spent mostly on renovating two of Charles’s Scottish properties, where parts of the grounds are named after him. It was alleged that he paid tens of thousands to fixers with links to the prince who had told him they could secure him an honour. Mr Mahfouz denies any wrongdoing.

Significantly, a letter emerged which Mr Fawcett wrote to Mr Mahfouz in 2017, in which he said: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for citizenship.

‘I can further confirm we are willing to make an application to increase His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.’ Sources said Prince Charles was not aware of any link between donations to the foundation and honours and was ‘deeply shocked’.

The Prince’s Foundation said it took the allegations seriously and immediately ordered an investigation.

Mr Fawcett announced he would ‘temporarily’ step down from his post while the matter was probed. Now he has decided to make that decision permanent, even before the findings have been revealed.

A friend said that despite his ‘many mis-steps’ over the years, Mr Fawcett had been a ‘loyal and faithful servant’ to the prince and had played a crucial role in his philanthropic efforts, helping Charles to raise more than £120 million for charity each year. 

Earlier this autumn, questions were raised over Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (pictured), who received an honorary CBE personally from Charles in 2016

Some royal insiders have questioned how the heir to the throne will manage to keep his charitable ventures – including Dumfries House – afloat without Mr Fawcett to ‘rattle the cans’.

A source said: ‘Michael will have no more dealings with either His Royal Highness or Clarence House from now on. That is absolutely clear. He’s not coming back in any way, shape or form, that cannot be stressed enough.

‘The report hasn’t been finished yet. It is his decision and his decision alone, and he is not pre-empting anything that may or may not be found.

‘This really is the earliest he has felt able to make any sort of decision about his future.’

The friend said the pressure of the scandal had had a ‘shattering effect’ on Mr Fawcett’s health. ‘Michael isn’t a well man – he has lost lots of weight and has shrunken into himself. No one is seeking sympathy, it’s a fact. He has been shattered by this.

A friend said that despite his ‘many mis-steps’ over the years, Mr Fawcett had been a ‘loyal and faithful servant’ to the prince and had played a crucial role in his philanthropic efforts. Pictured, Mr Fawcett with the Prince of Wales and Lord Thurso during a tour in 2019

‘He has made this decision because he needs time to get through this crisis. And he wants more than anything to be left alone while he goes through this difficult time.’

Mr Fawcett’s departure will be seen by his enemies – who viewed him as a pernicious influence on the royal household – as long overdue. And it will certainly provide the Prince of Wales with a ‘clean sheet’ when he becomes king.

There were some who had feared that at this point, Mr Fawcett could even be promoted to Master of the Household at Buckingham Palace.

It has been claimed that one of those who will not be upset to see the back of him is the Duchess of Cornwall, once a supporter of Mr Fawcett but who now feels her husband can start a new chapter.

The Prince of Wales is said to have been told about Mr Fawcett’s decision, which will be made public by officials today. He feels ‘sadness’ about the way things have ended, but accepts it.

As well as The Prince’s Foundation own investigation, Scotland’s charity regulator is investigating further allegations regarding donations to the foundation.

A Clarence House spokesman said previously: ‘The Prince of Wales fully supports the investigation now under way at the foundation.’

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