George Smith (royal servant)
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- that he was raped by Michael Fawcett, a favoured servant of the Prince Charles; and
- that Fawcett was himself in a homosexual relationship with the Prince of Wales, who protected him.
Smith served as a soldier in the Welsh Guards during the 1980s, when he saw active service in the Falklands War and in Northern Ireland. In his own words, published in the British Mail on Sunday newspaper:
- From the day in 1986 I joined the Household as a footman on secondment from the Welsh Guards I served the Prince and Princess loyally and to the best of my ability. The Prince was so impressed with my work that he brought me on to his staff fulltime in 1989.
Mental breakdown and rape allegation
Critics within the Household, however, claimed that in the 1990s his work performance deteriorated dramatically. By his own admission, he began to drink heavily. In 1995, his marriage fell apart. He became clinically depressed, experiencing flashbacks to the bombing of the Sir Galahad Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship, on which he had served during the Falklands conflict. He subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown. To recuperate, he was taken by Elizabeth Burgess, one of the Prince of Wales's secretaries, to a cottage on the Prince's Highgrove estate. While there, he alleged that he had been subject to a homosexual rape some years earlier by Michael Fawcett, a married former footman who had become one of the Prince's closest friends. Burgess, believing she had been told "in confidence", did not repeat the allegation.
Accused of "wasting police time"
He later claimed to police that he was being followed and that threats were being made against him, with strangers banging on his front door. Doubting the story but aware that he was an aide to the Prince of Wales, the police set up a secret CCTV camera to verify his testimony. Though he continued to make allegations, the police tapes showed that no-one was following him or banging on his door. The police then approached the Prince's staff in St. James's Palace in London and warned that unless Smith received help he would be prosecuted for "wasting police time". The Prince paid for him to attend The Priory, a famous British drink and drug treatment centre frequented by rock stars such as Robbie Williams and prominent people in the aristocracy, the media and the public eye.
Allegations against Charles made to Diana
Smith approached Diana, Princess of Wales and made two allegations. He repeated his allegation that he had been raped. He also claimed to have witnessed the Princess's estranged husband, the Prince of Wales, lying in bed with his aide, Michael Fawcett, on one occasion when he brought the Prince his breakfast. Diana made a tape of the interview. The whereabouts of the tape became a matter of considerable controversy following Diana's death in August 1997.
A subsequent inquiry by senior staff members of the Prince of Wales into the rape allegations dismissed them as fiction. Smith was retired from the Prince's Household.
Statement to the Mail on Sunday
Smith's second allegation, of a sexual relationship between the Prince of Wales and Fawcett, was repeated in a legal statement issued by him to the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Fawcett took a High Court injunction to prevent their disclosure. The injunction was granted. The Guardian newspaper sought and received permission from the courts on 6 November 2003 to name Fawcett as the party granted the injunction. In response, the Prince's Private Secretary issued a statement denying the allegations and questioning the trustworthiness of the unnamed Smith as a source.
Though the story still cannot be published in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it has been written about extensively in the Republic of Ireland and Italy and on some Internet websites. It was also published in the Scottish Glasgow Herald; Scotland, which operates under a different legal jurisdiction from the rest of the United Kingdom, is exempt from a ruling of the English High Court.
Media dismissive of credibility
Though the full nature of the allegations has yet to be made public in the United Kingdom (outside Scotland), few media commentators have expressed any belief in Smith's story. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a British media commentator, speaking on The Last Word, an Irish radio current affairs programme, called Smith "probably the most unreliable source for any story on anything anywhere in the United Kingdom". Other commentators have expressed similar criticisms. Simon Solari, who worked as the Prince of Wales's valet for 15 years, was equally dismissive of Smith's claims, saying that a royal valet simply would not have had the opportunity to witness the scene Smith described - even if it actually took place.
Only the Mail on Sunday defended Smith. In a story that hinted at Smith's claims but did not reproduce them due to the legal restrictions, it quoted Smith as saying:
- I lost my job, my house, my wife and children because it all became too much for me... Today I feel under great stress again because the establishment is mounting a campaign against me. They are very powerful and privileged and have lots of money to pay lawyers to prevent me from telling the truth.
Smith claims only to have witnessed a member of the Royal Family and his aide "tucked up under the sheets, lying next to each other". There is no suggestion that a sexual act was taking place when Smith (allegedly) entered the room. According to the valet's brother, Bryan Smith:
- George has told me there was no physical activity but you didn't have to be a brain surgeon to work out what had been going on.
On 13 June 2004, the Sunday Telegraph claimed that Smith had withdrawn his allegations. But he repudiated their claim, and stated that while he had been tempted by their offer of cash in return for a withdrawal, he had refused the offer, because the allegations were true.
- The Sunday Times on international coverage
- Sunday Times editorial
- BBC report on dismissive comments by another ex-valet
- BBC report on Scottish newspaper's publication of allegations
- Clarence House statement denying the 'incident'
- Sky News report
- CBS News coverage
- Sunday Mirror: Revealed: Secrets of the 'Rape Tape'
- UK republican site's summary of the allegations