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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 00:08 GMT
Michael Fawcett: Trusted aide

Trusted aide Michael Fawcett resigned earlier this year amid claims about gifts to the royal household. He now finds himself at the centre of the renewed controversy surrounding Prince Charles, his former employer.

Michael Fawcett
Michael Fawcett left the Prince's staff in March

Michael Fawcett took legal action to prevent the Mail on Sunday and then the Guardian from publishing his name in relation to an incident with a senior member of the Royal Family.

Following a succesful challenge by the Guardian to publish Mr Fawcett's name - but not the allegation - Prince Charles took the unusual step to deny the unspecified allegation, thereby revealing himself as the Royal involved.

The latest Royal troubles come several months after Mr Fawcett left his position following the Peat report into the conduct of the prince's household.

The Peat inquiry, in March, found that Mr Fawcett had accepted numerous gifts in the course of his royal service, but cleared him of any financial impropriety.

While no longer a royal employee, Mr Fawcett still works for the prince on a freelance basis as a fixer and party planner.

Among his latest royal jobs was the organisation of Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle in June and helping with the refurbishment and interior design at Clarence House, the Queen Mother's former residence which is now the prince's London headquarters.

Lowly start

Prince Charles reportedly once said: "I can manage without just about anyone except for Michael."

Mr Fawcett rose from the lowly position of Buckingham Palace footman to become the prince's most trusted aide on whom he came to depend for a wide range of help and advice in his daily life.

His position meant he wielded great influence among the palace staff, not least because he was privy to a lot of personal details about the royals.

According to the former royal press officer Dickie Arbiter: "Fawcett has been there for so many years, so close in times of stress, knowing all the ins and outs and all the warts."

Fawcett participating in the tug of war at the Mey Games
Pulling for the royals at the Mey Games

In 1998, when a number of the prince's staff complained to the prince of Fawcett's bullying, Mr Fawcett duly resigned.

Within a week, though, he was not only re-instated, but promoted. The complainers have all now left royal service.

Michael Fawcett arrived at Buckingham Palace in 1981 as one of the Queen's footmen.

His father was an accountant from Orpington, his mother died when he was young. At one point he called himself Buxton-Fawcett, which, it is said, did not impress some of his colleagues in the servants' quarters who dubbed him "Sir Michael".

By impressing the right people, Mr Fawcett rose through the ranks to become first sergeant footman and then assistant valet to the Prince of Wales.

He struck up a good relationship with Diana, but when her marriage hit the rocks, Mr Fawcett sided with Charles.

When the prince, after the couple's separation, ordered Mr Fawcett to retrieve his personal possessions from Kensington Palace, Diana had the locks changed to prevent him from entering.

'The Fence'

The tension between the rival camps brought Mr Fawcett into conflict with one-time ally, Paul Burrell, whose trial in 2002 brought to light many of the issues investigated by Sir Michael Peat.

Fawcett with the Prince of Wales
Fawcett became Charles' most trusted aide
Not wishing to keep many of these presents, Charles is said to have asked Michael Fawcett to sell them, reportedly allowing him to keep as much as 20% of their value.

The prince recently gave Mr Fawcett a rare Rolex Daytona watch valued at more than 3,500, received from a Saudi sheikh.

In the early 1990s, Michael Fawcett married a royal housemaid. They now have a son and a daughter.

His main responsibilities were to organise the prince's public and private entertaining. He looked after Charles' weekend retreats at Sandringham and helped with the shooting parties.

He also forged close links with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he accompanied to New York on her first trip there in 2000. He also helped her refurbish Birkhall, the Queen Mother's old home on the Balmoral estate.

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