He’s one of the Royal Family‘s longest-serving and most loyal courtiers, but Ashe Windham has quit as director of Prince Charles‘s charitable empire, I can reveal.
Friends fear he may become a ‘fall guy’ for the ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal that’s rocked the monarchy.
Windham, 64, who served as an equerry first to the Queen Mother and later Prince Charles, resigned as a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation last month after only three years in the post.
Ashe Windham, pictured here with Prince Charles in Scotland in 2019, has quit as director of the Prince’s Foundation after only three years
Friends fear the loyal aide, pictured here with The Queen, could become a ‘fall guy’ in the ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal that has rocked the monarchy
The former Irish Guards officer is reported to have been the figure behind the initial contact with the Saudi billionaire at the heart of the scandal, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.
He met Mahfouz in May 2013. Shortly afterwards, the tycoon donated £20,000 to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, of which Windham was chairman, a post he held for 22 years.
Windham subsequently had an ancient woodland at the Queen Mother’s beloved 15th century Highlands estate named the Mahfouz Wood.
Scotland Yard announced an inquiry into claims surrounding the foundation’s former chief executive, Michael Fawcett, in February.
The scandal came after allegations former chief executive of the foundation, Michael Fawcett (pictured) offered to help Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood in exchange for donations to the trust
The police probe follows a Mail on Sunday revelation that Fawcett allegedly offered to help Mahfouz upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood — and support his application for British citizenship — in exchange for ‘generous’ donations to the foundation.
Charles — who presented Mahfouz with his honorary CBE title in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace — is likely to be asked by police what he knew of the claims against Fawcett, who quit last November.
‘I hope that Ashe is not being set up as the fall guy in this affair,’ a friend of Eton-educated Wind- ham tells me. ‘He is a man of great honour.’
A spokesman for the Prince’s Foundation confirms his departure, telling me: ‘Ashe Windham has stepped down as a trustee as his term, which was agreed at the outset, came to an end in March.’
A source is keen to add: ‘It would be incorrect to misconstrue this as his resigning for any other reason.’
‘Mike would have approved of my new man’, says Sarah Greene
Sarah Greene was pictured out with her new partner Robb Gravett, who was friends with her late husband Mike Smith
When TV star Sarah Greene revealed earlier this year that she was going out with a close friend of her late husband, Mike Smith, she insisted he would have approved.
Smith (pictured here with Ms Greene) died in 2014 following complications from heart surgery
‘I sort of know Mike is pulling so many strings in my life,’ the former Blue Peter and Saturday Superstore presenter said of Smith, who died in 2014 aged 59 following complications from heart surgery.
Now, Greene, 64, and Smith’s pal, the former touring car champion Robb Gravett, 65, are understood to be living together in West London.
And here’s the first picture of the new couple, on a shopping trip near Greene’s home.
Gravett was best man for Smith — who presented the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and Top Of The Pops — when he and Greene married in 1989.
In February, Greene said of her late husband: ‘He has undoubtedly been responsible for me meeting my beloved, who was one of his oldest friends, who waited a certain amount of time but did keep leaving messages on the answering machine. I thought he was just being kind.
‘Then I got a message almost saying: “For God’s sake, Greeno, Robb’s trying to make contact with you because he actually wants to take you out. So will you just get off your a*** and answer the phone next time it rings!” ’
Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton admits that he has a very intimate problem ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
He and the other drivers have been reminded that for safety reasons they’re not allowed to sport jewellery in the form of body piercings or metal neck chains while racing in Melbourne tomorrow.
Seven-times world champion Hamilton, 37, jokes: ‘I’ve got several piercings that I really can’t take out, that not a lot of people know of.’
Impresario widow’s dismay at actor portraying her husband
Political correctness means that, these days, Daniel Day-Lewis would probably never have been allowed to give his Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot as Christy Brown, the Irish writer and painter who had cerebral palsy.
But now, I can reveal that the producers of hit West End musical Beautiful, about the life of legendary singer-songwriter Carole King, have turned the tables by casting a disabled actor, who performs mostly using a wheelchair, to play an able-bodied pop impresario in a major British theatre tour.
Garry Robson, 69, who has been disabled since contracting polio as a child, is currently performing the role of Don Kirshner, the American music producer and talent manager who helped launch the careers of pop stars including Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, and Carole King.
However, Kirshner’s family are ‘disturbed’ by the casting choice, over which they were not consulted. His TV producer son Ricky tells me: ‘My father was never in a wheelchair or had any disability.’
Kirshner’s widow, Sheila, says: ‘My husband was not disabled, so it was a bit disturbing to hear that was how he was portrayed. No one ever reached out to us.’
She adds: ‘I do not think it is appropriate and will certainly try to find out why this happened.’
Robson has previously criticised casting directors’ ‘lack of imagination’. He said in 2018: ‘It’s been changing for the better over the last decade. It’s about getting to the moment where people are cast for their talent, rather than their wheelchair.
‘It’s just getting people used to seeing different bodies on stage. We’re a beautifully diverse country and that should be reflected.’
The show’s director, Nikolai Foster, insists ‘it’s not an attempt to be woke’, telling me: ‘There’s no reason an actor in a wheelchair shouldn’t be able to tell that story.’
Is billionaire Nick Candy seeking backing from another colourful property developer as he bids for Chelsea Football Club?
I ask only because Candy, 49, (far left) has met Donald Trump — who made his fortune from hotels and real estate — while on holiday in Florida with his wife, former Neighbours actress and pop star Holly Valance, 38.
The couple were joined by Nigel Farage at Mar-a-Lago, the former U.S. president’s Palm Beach resort.
Nick Candy (left) was pictured with his wife Holly Valance (right), Donald Trump and Nigel Farage in Mar-a-Lago
The smart set’s talking about… Jemma and Arki moving their romance up a gear
Jemma Kidd is currently on a romantic escape in the sun with beau Arpad Busson
Jemma Kidd split up with her husband, the Marquess of Douro, in 2020, but she remains a key member of the jet set.
Here’s the Marchioness, 47, riding pillion on a jet ski with billionaire Arpad ‘Arki’ Busson, 59.
The pair have been going out for almost a year and former model and make-up artist Jemma is currently on a romantic escape in the sun with the French financier, who is father to supermodel Elle Macpherson’s two sons.
Jemma is due to be joined by her three children with the Marquess, Arthur Wellesley, who is heir to the Duke of Wellington.
‘Back in this beautiful place,’ says Jemma. ‘Waiting for my little people to arrive.’
Can’t get to sleep at night? Apparently, the BBC can offer a cure for insomnia.
An assessment of the broadcaster’s centenary in the New York Times notes: ‘The BBC can still be snoozy.
‘I’m not the only person I know who, at least before Putin rattled the world’s cage, listened to the BBC’s World Service app at bedtime because it’s an aural sleeping pill.’
Ascot lass Rosie in form for Aintree
Rosie Tapner has been presenting Ascot TV and is set to reprise her role in front of the camera at Aintree
Ascot TV presenter Rosie Tapner is clearly more than just a one-trick pony.
The society model, 26, is going in front of the camera at Aintree, too, gushing that the Merseyside racecourse is giving her ‘such a buzz’.
She’ll be joined at the Grand National today by the Duchess of Cornwall, who will be apart from Prince Charles on their 17th wedding anniversary.
Let’s hope the day is less eventful for Camilla than it was for the Queen when she attended Britain’s biggest steeplechase in 1956.
She watched the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, ridden by Dick Francis, fall on the final straight when it was leading the race.
(Very) Modern Manners
Anyone with teenagers will know that sometimes turning off the wifi is the only way to get them to put down their smartphones and go to bed.
And Strictly winner Bill Bailey says his wife, Kristin, is one of them. ‘My wife is probably a bit more strict [than me],’ admits the comedian, 57.
‘She just says: “Right, that’s it, we’re turning off the router — no more internet.” ’
However, their son, Dax, now 19, has been known to walk out if he’s not satisfied with his online access. ‘When our internet went down, he actually left home,’ Bailey says. ‘He went to school early because the school internet was better than ours.’
Now you can join the club — at home
Those unable to win membership of ultra-exclusive private members’ club 5 Hertford Street now have a consolation prize — if they can afford it.
Robin Birley’s Mayfair establishment, where Prince Harry wooed Meghan, is bringing out its own range of home furnishings that could bring a touch of its opulent decor to your home.
They include a £3,500 cashmere blanket, £950 ‘butler trays’, as well as elegant glass salt holders, colourful pepper grinders and grand marble butter dishes.
Quote of the week
‘I like playing dead — it’s restful and you don’t have to learn lines’
Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, who is currently playing a corpse as he shoots Roman Polanski’s forthcoming film The Palace.