Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 15:55 UK

Royal window cleaner former thief

Matthew Bell
Matthew Bell says he is now a reformed character

A convicted thief who set up his own window cleaning business after leaving prison has been employed on Prince Charles's estate in Wales.

Matthew Bell, 35, from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, says he is a reformed man since serving time for breaking into a holiday home.

His firm called Inside Out in reference to his past was contracted to clean the windows at nearby Llwynywermod.

A spokeswoman for the prince said Mr Bell was supervised at all times.

Mr Bell, 35, spent four months behind bars for the burglary in 2003 but said he does not usually conceal his past.

After leaving Swansea Prison he set up his company and posted leaflets through doors and stuck up flyers in the villages close to the prince's new home in Carmarthenshire.

I usually tell my clients that I have a conviction for burglary - but I decided to keep quiet about it this time.
Matthew Bell

He said one day he was up a ladder cleaning windows when he had a call from the prince's deputy deputy Master of the Household Andrew Farquharson.

No police checks were carried out and two days later he started work cleaning the newly-installed bullet-proof windows at the country estate.

The father-of-two said he was surprised no checks were done on him before he landed his royal appointment.

He and two assistants were paid 1,200 for two days work.

He claims he had the freedom of the place and even spent time inside Charles and Camilla's bedroom.

""I usually tell my clients that I have a conviction for burglary - but I decided to keep quiet about it this time.

Prince Charles and the duchess stayed at the estate for the first time in June.

"I went to Charles and Camilla's estate and was shown around.

"Mr Farquharson said he had contacted me after seeing one of my advertising leaflets.

"It was a big job because the place had just been done up and paint had dried on all the windows which were made of bullet-proof glass."

He was caught five years ago after breaking into a holiday home in the Welsh countryside.

The police stopped his car on his way home from the night raid - and it was full of stolen valuables.

He admitted burglary and Llanelli magistrates sentenced him to nine months.

He was was jailed again by Carmarthen magistrates last year for 21 days for non-payment of fines and breaching a community service order.

Mr Bell said since then his business had taken off.

Under supervision

He said he now had 300 clients, including pubs, farms and two nursing homes and said he earned around 8-an-hour.

A spokeswoman for Prince Charles said: "He was employed for two days prior to their Royal Highnesses taking up residence in the house.

"He was under supervision all the time while at the property.

"It would have been very different if he was a permanently employed member of staff.

"The duchy aims to employ as many local people as possible on the property in Wales."

Royal couple welcome neighbours
25 Jun 08 |  South West Wales


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