Prince Andrew’s lavish lifestyle, conducted on a known income of a naval pension of around £20,000 ($27,000) has long been a true royal mystery. Even when he was receiving an annual stipend from his mother of £250,000 ($340,000), he appeared to live a flashy lifestyle of fancy holidays, fast cars, a $23 million Swiss chalet, and private jets way beyond his apparent means.
No doubt the sale of a mansion given to him by his mother helped, especially as he sold it for £3 million ($4 million) more than the asking price to a Kazakh oligarch, who, after some delay, demolished it.
Now at least part of the answer to the riddle of Andrew’s enviable cash-flow situation is provided by a Bloomberg News investigation that has found a company controlled by one of the ruling British Conservative party’s major donors, David Rowland, sent £1.5 million ($2 million) to Andrew. Andrew promptly used the money to repay a loan for an equivalent amount from a private bank controlled by the Rowland family.
Bloomberg News alleges that David Rowland’s company, Albany Reserves, “wired the money to a London account at Banque Havilland SA held by the queen of England’s second son in December 2017,” citing “interviews with two people familiar with the transactions and bank documents seen by Bloomberg News.”
Bloomberg adds: “The transfer was earmarked for repayment of a £1.5 million ($2 million) loan from Banque Havilland the prince had taken out just 11 days earlier.”
In fact, Bloomberg makes clear, the loan had started out as “£1.25 million facility that had been extended or increased 10 times since 2015.”
Bloomberg reports Andrew “operated as an unofficial door opener for Rowland and his family for more than a decade” and says the loan was made despite the fact that Banque Havilland staff warned the loan was “not in line with the risk appetite of the bank,” according to “an internal credit application.”
A note on the document reportedly added that the unsecured loan, bearing interest of 8 percent, was granted in November 2017 because it opened up “further business potential with the royal family,” adding: “While the (increased) loan is unsecured and granted solely against the credibility of the applicant, both his position and that his mother is the sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom should provide access to funds for repayment if need be.”
Bloomberg says the loan was then repaid using “£1,503,000 transferred to the prince from a Guernsey-registered company controlled by the Rowland family.”
A spokesperson for the Duke of York told Bloomberg News that Andrew “is entitled to a degree of privacy in conducting his entirely legitimate, personal financial affairs, on which all appropriate accounting measures are undertaken and all taxes duly paid.” A spokesman for Banque Havilland declined to comment to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reports Andrew attended Banque Havilland events, including a branch opening in Monaco in 2012 where he gave a speech and was at the unveiling of a 2018 joint venture with the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.
The Rowlands “often introduced themselves as investment advisers to the prince and the royal family,” Bloomberg reported, adding that they “joined him on an official trip to China when Andrew was the U.K.’s special representative for trade.”
David Rowland rose from humble beginnings as the son of a British scrap metal dealer to make a fortune in real estate and investing. He has donated over £6 million ($8 million) to Britain’s Conservative party. David, his son Jonathan, and their wives “had front-row seats at the 2018 wedding of Andrew’s youngest daughter, Princess Eugenie, at St. George’s chapel in Windsor Castle,” Bloomberg reports.