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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 23:32 GMT
Sir Michael Peat: Right hand man
Sir Michael Peat
Sir Michael Peat is a trusted member of Clarence House
Sir Michael Peat, one of Prince Charles' most trusted aides, was chosen to read out the Prince's statement denying unpublished allegations.

The unusual move taken by Clarence House was reinforced with a television interview by the senior Royal servant.

Previously Sir Michael was one of two men who carried out an inquiry in 2002 into the collapse of the trial of former Royal butler Paul Burrell.

The latest Royal troubles have intensified after Mr Burrell published a book in October 2003 with detailed information about Prince Charles and the collapse of his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Sir Michael, 52, has a reputation as a tough moderniser in the royal household.

Financial experience

He has given 13 years of loyal service to the royals, reportedly attracting the sobriquet "the axe man" for his success at shoring up the Royals' finances.

He made this reputation during his time as Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen.

The Eton and Oxford educated accountant was seen as a moderniser in the Royal household and advised the Queen to pay tax on her private income from 1993.

His tough financial stance at Buckingham Palace is thought to have saved taxpayers 37m-a-year.

It was he who hinted that the Royal Train, which costs 35,000 every time it is used, may have reached the end of the line.

He worked for the Queen for more than a decade, until he became Prince Charles's private secretary in 2002, replacing Stephen Lamport.

High earner

Sir Michael's credentials are impeccable and accountancy is in the blood.

His father was a Privy Purse auditor, as was his great-grandfather William Barclay Peat, who was a founding partner of the accountancy firm Peat Marwick, now KPMG, where Sir Michael was previously a partner.

He spent about 20 years in the family business, until joining the royal household in 1990.

He was director of Finance and Property Services, HM Household, from 1990-96 and Keeper of the Privy Purse from 1996-2002.

He is said to be the most expensive member of Prince Charles's staff.

When he left Buckingham Palace, his salary was reportedly 172,000 - of which 47,000 was reimbursed to the Property Services as rent for his apartment at Kensington Palace.

It is likely his earnings have increased since joining the Prince of Wales.

In his prestigious role as Prince Charles's private secretary, he oversees his royal employer's public and private engagements.

Sir Michael, who lists history, sport and literature among his interests, has a son and two daughters by his wife Deborah, whom he married in 1976.


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