What links do the Royal Family have with Qatar?

File photo dated 3/13/2013 of the Prince of Wales shaking hands with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani at his residence outside Doha, Qatar.  The prince received large cash donations totaling three million euros from the former prime minister of Qatar, reported the

The then Prince of Wales shakes hands with the then prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, at his residence outside Doha, Qatar, in March 2013. (Getty Images)

Qatar has sparked significant controversy over its hosting of the World Cup – but it’s not the only time the country has found itself in the spotlight this year.

In June, The Sunday Times reported that King Charles – then a prince – was alleged to have received cash donations totaling €3m (almost £2.6m) for his Prince of Wales charity from the former prime minister of Qatar.

While the paper reported “there is no allegation the payments were illegal”, it said Charles received three tranches of cash personally from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Qatar’s prime minister from 2011 to 2005.

On one occasion, The Times said, Sheikh Hamad handed Charles €1 million in notes stored in paper bags from Fortnum & Mason, the London luxury store that has a royal charter, raising “serious questions about the personal judgment” of the new monarch.

TOPSHOT - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during an audience at Windsor Castle, west of London on May 24, 2022. (Photo: Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL /AFP via Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Windsor Castle in May. (Getty Images)

Afterwards, it was widely reported that Charles said cash bag donations made to his charities “will not be returned”. A month later, the charity committee refused to open an investigation, saying that it “has no concerns.”

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Charles’ long-standing relationship with the former Qatari prime minister has reportedly been close, with Sheikh Hamad gifting the British monarch a £147,000 horse and reportedly “contributing to the upkeep of one of his castles in Scotland”.

Britain and Qatar have a long-standing relationship, with the BBC saying that “at the core” of Britain’s relationship with the Gulf state “is gas”.

The small country is one of the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world, and the second largest supplier to the UK.

However, the ties between the two countries go beyond energy.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani at a desert picnic held in a Bedouin tent made of camel skins in Qatar, February 27, 1979. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani at a desert picnic in Qatar in February 1979. (Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during a visit to Qatar, February 1979. (Photo: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during that visit to Qatar in 1979. (Getty Images)

Qatar’s ruling family and sovereign wealth fund – the Qatar Investment Authority – own parts of London, including Harrods, 20% of Heathrow Airport and the Shard.

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Elsewhere in her portfolio are 6% of Barclays Bank, 7% of the London Stock Exchange and 15% of Sainsbury’s.

In 2018, the late Sir David Ames MP called the country “a valued ally of the UK”, highlighting the defense cooperation between the two countries which “contributes significantly to the UK economy”.

But it is the royal family who are said to have helped play a key role in maintaining strong relations with the Qatari ruling family.

LONDON, UK - JULY 22: The Queen and Prince Philip with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamed Ibn Khalifa Al-Thani, at Buckingham Palace (Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani at Buckingham Palace in July 1997. (Getty Images)

According to CNN, “Much of Britain’s traditional control of the region was rooted in monarchies that it imposed or supported through close ties to its royal family.”

He quoted an academic, Christian Ulrichson, as saying: “The royal family has provided a means for Britain to create and maintain decades-long links with ruling elites… in ways that would be difficult for elected political leaders to replicate.”

The late Queen Elizabeth shared a good relationship with the House of Al-Thani – Qatar’s ruling family – as well as an interest in horse racing.

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Holding company Qatar Investments & Projects Development (QIPCO) became the first ever sponsor of Royal Ascot in 2014.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Queen Elizabeth II make their way to Windsor Castle on October 26, 2010 in Windsor, England.  The sheikh is on a two-day state visit to Britain, the first since his last in 1985, which is seen as important in strengthening already established business ties with one of the most financially powerful Gulf states.  (Photo: Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani ride through Windsor during a state visit in October 2010. (Getty Images)

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended the Queen’s funeral in September, and according to the “Guardian”, “his cousin, the horse racing enthusiast Hamad bin Abdullah, was among the even more elite group at her engagement at Windsor Castle.”

The Sheikh was also one of the last foreign rulers to visit the Queen in May, in what will be one of her last engagements as her health declines.

Queen Elizabeth visited Qatar in 1979 and in 2010 hosted the then Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani during a state visit.

In her speech at the state banquet, the Queen called the Qatari people “old and valued friends” and expressed her hope that Britain would be a “home from home” for them.

She also said that “the State of Qatar and the United Kingdom, as well as our two families, have been in close contact with each other for a long time,” noting that “her two sons, Charles and Andrew, have gotten to know Qatar well.”

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (C), Britain's Prince Andrew (L), Duke of York, and Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar.  , to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the Qatargas 2 plant in the northern industrial area of ​​Ras Laffan on April 6, 2009. The Qatargas 2 project provides a production capacity of 15 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year.  AFP PHOTO/STR (Image credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images)

Prince Andrew, pictured with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, officially served as trade envoy until 2011. (Getty Images)

Until 2011, Prince Andrew served as Britain’s Special Representative for Trade, a role he relinquished in July of that year following mounting criticism of his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

However, despite officially relinquishing the role of trade envoy, Andrew continued to hold meetings around the world relating to British trade, with “meetings with 15 ministers from foreign governments in Qatar, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia” taking place in the six months following his relinquishment.

Initially, Buckingham Palace protected Andrew continuing this work, as did the government.

The UK Trade and Investment Department (UKTI) was quoted as saying at the time that Andrew was “particularly valuable in some parts of the world where continuity is valued over an ever-changing workforce”.


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