Prince Andrew made a dark deal to travel around the world on a £40 million luxury jet owned by a questionable financier whose private bank he unobtrusively promoted while working as Britain’s overseas trade envoy.
A leaked email exposed how Prince Andrew cooked it so that property financier David Rowland’s impressive 14 seat plane was used for some of his overseas Royal engagements after the Prince became discouraged with the ageing aircraft provided by the RAF.
Records that were discovered show how in the last two years Prince Andrew has travelled on the Global Express at least five times while on official Royal duties, some of which he merged with promoting his treasured Pitch@Palace project or David Rowland’s latest business enterprise.
The email further reveals how Prince Andrew, Britain’s roving trade ambassador between 2001 and 2011, sought assurances that the aircraft would have strong security while it was on the ground at Farnborough airport in Hampshire because it was going to be used by members of the Royal Family.
Buckingham Palace stated the flights were not taxpayer-funded but declined to disclose how they were paid for, other than to say the matter was private and a spokesperson further declined to say which Royals had used the plane or who met the security bill.
The unusual arrangement with struck in 2010 when Prince Andrew was still UK trade envoy but reports show he travelled on the executive plane as recently as this May and in October last year, records reveal the jet flew to the United Arab Emirates and the Court Circular shows that only the next day Prince Andrew was yet again cutting the ribbon on one of Mr Rowland’s banks following a multi-million-pound deal.
The Duke had earlier opened a bank owned by the Rowlands in the tax haven of Luxembourg in September 2009 and then one in Monaco in 2012 and in the eight days after opening the headquarters of the Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank in Abu Dhabi, Prince Andrew attended three Pitch@Palace events there.
Prince Andrew’s use of the top of the range plane is bound to raise questions over whether the Duke was left indebted to the Rowland family and in fact, in a separate gushing email to Jonathan Rowland, David’s 44-year-old son and loyal business lieutenant, Prince Andrew barely concealed his delight at the arrangement and he wrote that he was profoundly thankful to his father for making this possible and that he had a different outlook on life and its opportunities, whilst trying to not let it go to his head, which he found extremely difficult.
And the MoS revealed how Prince Andrew unobtrusively plugged Rowland’s Luxembourg-based bank for the super-rich while on overseas trade envoy missions and how the Duke allowed the Rowland’s to shoehorn meetings into his trade tours so they could expand the bank and solicit rich clients.
Of course, the jet deal had a conflict of interest written in 6 feet high print and Nigel Mills, before the Election a member of the Commons public accounts committee, vowed that if re-elected this week, he would demand an inquiry by the National Audit Office spending watchdog because it posed real questions about whether when Prince Andrew was performing his Royal duties, was he doing that in the national interest or in the interests of his mates?
With a range of more than 7,000 miles and a deluxe cabin furnished to the specific requirements of the owner, the Global Express was certainly an impressive choice of plane and such an aircraft would cost up to £7,600 per hour to hire, although there isn’t a fixed price but hourly costs can be between £5,900 and £7,600, that covers pilots, fuel and everything else.
David Rowland was thrilled by his new plane after a delivery ceremony and dinner hosted by its manufacturer Bombardier in December 2010 and he recorded that it was a great aeroplane from the quality of it, from its flying capacity to its fantastic interior and paintwork, it had exceeded all expectation.
It certainly was a stark difference to the weary RAF executive jets of 32 Squadron used by the Royals and other dignitaries with some of the jets dating back to the 1970s which were unable to travel across the Atlantic.
And in a startling leaked email, Prince Andrew told Mansour Ojjeh, President of Tag Group, the then owner of Farnborough airport, that he was fed up with the Government’s incompetence to replace the aircraft.
Prince Andrew stated that over the last few years, he had been increasingly discouraged at the Government’s lack of action and failure to see the need for replacement of the aircraft of the current Royal Flight.
In the late 1990s, Prince Andrew, then still a Royal Navy officer, suggested privatising the Royal Family’s helicopters, this led to the Queen leasing a US-built helicopter instead of using two RAF Wessex helicopters.
But in his email, he bawled that he’d failed to convince the Government to also privatise the Royal Flight’s fixed-wing aircraft and in a series of unusual comments, he admitted to Mr Ojjeh that he’d taken things into his own hands and approached several private providers.
Buckingham Palace declined to say how many aircraft owners the Duke spoke to but his associate David Rowland was one of them.
Buckingham Palace also declined to disclose the funding of the arrangement but the Duke’s claim to have paid for access to the jet raises more questions about his ambiguous finances.
Prince Andrew’s only real income amounts to a £20,000 a year Navy pension and a reported £249,000 paid privately each year by the Queen to run his official office.
The Prince’s purpose for writing to Mr Ojjeh was to solicit assurances that the plane would be kept securely at Farnborough, Britain’s private jet hub and he’s concerned about the security of the aircraft as it’s going to be used by members of the Royal Family and that he would like to know if it’s going to be secure whilst it’s on the ground at Farnborough and the Prince sent a draft of the email to Jonathan Rowland, asking for any comments, additions or deletions.
The jet deal further demonstrates the extraordinary intimate ties between Andrew and David Rowland, who was a tax exile for more than 30 years and who helped pay off Sarah Ferguson’s debts and in 2010, David Rowland resigned as Tory Party treasurer amid debate surrounding his business activities.
The MoS can show how Prince Andrew appeared to use Mr Rowland’s plane to travel to the Middle East for a visit in which he gave the Royal seal of approval to another one of his friend’s profitable business ventures.
Buckingham Palace’s Court Circular shows that Prince Andrew opened the headquarters of the Ango Gulf Trade Bank in Abu Dhabi’s glittering Al Maqam Tower, a 37 storey glass skyscraper on October 16, 2018.
The bank is a joint enterprise between AGTB Holdings, a Rowland family-controlled company, and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company and Prince Andrew was pictured cutting a ribbon in front of Edmund Rowland, David’s 34-year-old son who became the bank’s chief executive.
Intriguingly, the Court Circular makes no mention of how and when Prince Andrew landed in Abu Dhabi but the MoS has obtained flight records for Mr Rowland’s Global Express that showed it travelled from Farnborough to Abu Dhabi, a six-hour, 47-minute flight, the day before the opening ceremony and the bank’s bosses were titillated the Duke had brought some Royal stardust to their launch.
Prince Andrew’s most current flight on Mr Rowland’s plane was in May when he travelled to Canada for a six-day visit and publicly obtainable flight records reveal the aircraft flew from Farnborough to Halifax Standfield airport in Nova Scotia on May 23.
That night, according to the Court Circular, Buckingham Palace’s register of official engagements, the Duke attended a dinner hosted by Nova Scotia’s lieutenant governor.
The plane then seems to have whisked him to Toronto for more official appointments, including a visit to Lakefield College School, a private school in Ontario where, as a 17-year-old, he enjoyed a delightful six months but the visit could be his last, following the unfortunate BBC interview about his connections to Jeffrey Epstein, and Lakefield’s head confirmed Prince Andrew was no longer the honorary chairman of its foundation.
The Canada trip was one of more than 30 foreign excursions since 2014 in which Prince Andrew promoted Pitch@Palace and he attended a so-called boot camp for the project in Toronto and an event at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The Duke, known as ‘Air Miles Andy’, left Toronto on May 28, landing at Farnborough the next day and this precisely matched the six hours, 13 minutes flight recorded for Mr Rowland’s jet.
His schedule had also precisely matched the flight records of Mr Rowland’s aircraft two months earlier when Prince Andrew landed at Bahrain International airport on the evening of March 25 and according to the Court Circular, Mr Rowland’s Global Express touched down at the same airport at 7.22 pm that night.
The Duke also visited the Royal Navy’s £40 million support base in Mina Salman and had dinner with the King of Bahrain, he also attended two Pitch@Palace events.
It was a similar picture in October 2017, when during a four-day stay to Abu Dhabi he combined visits to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and an international school with three Pitch@Palace events again travelling home on his friend’s luxury plane, landing at Luton airport on October 5, as did Mr Rowland’s Global Express.
Buckingham Palace said that Sovereign Grant funds official overseas travel by members of the Royal Family, at the behest of Government and that none of the flights listed was paid for by the Sovereign Grant.
The Rowlands refused to comment for legal reasons and Farnborough airport said that they didn’t comment on flights operating from the airport.
Yet these Royals jet the world and then like Charles they preach to us mortals not to keep flying and then lecture about this climate nonsense and I guess that Charles has his aides reading the newspapers and the comments but the monarchy is now wavering on the brink of an abyss and now they’re bringing bitterness and ridicule on the image of the Royal Family.
What we should have is a thorough public audit of all the costs and finances of the monarchy, since we seem to fund the royals and how they spend our money should be our concern because the true value of them is that they’re a pricey crapulence from the past.