This week has genuinely felt like a period of mourning from the British tabloids. Their favorite subjects to harass and bully, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are no longer tied in any way to Britain. Meghan and Harry’s Netflix deal gives them financial independence and the reaction from the Firm and their royal commentators is one of sadness and grief, because they can’t control H&M in any way. So… um, the tabloids are in the market for new targets. Those papers have been sitting on some scandals, some of which unfolded during the Sussex heyday, and it looks like those controversies are being dusted off for fun. Remember Peter Phillips and his gross milk commercial in China? Remember how Zara makes questionable business deals as part of her competitive equestrian career? From Sebastian Shakespeare’s Daily Mail column:
The Queen’s grandchildren Zara Phillips and her brother Peter have always relied on making their own money after their mother, the Princess Royal, expressed the hope that they would lead lives which would be as ‘normal’ as possible. But they have not always avoided pitfalls.
Earlier this year, Peter was ridiculed for appearing in a milk commercial on Chinese TV, billed as ‘British Royal Family member Peter Phillips’. He has additionally received a salary from Chinese businessman Dr Johnny Hon, who also paid Zara £100,000-a-year for horse racing advice.
So some might think questions about their financial probity are worth investigating. Not at the Home Office, nor the Information Commission, however.
For I can disclose both organisations have just rejected a request that Zara and Peter’s relationship with an eminent international businessman be made public. So who could it be? The person is not identified for confidentiality reasons, but it could conceivably be Johnny Hon himself. The unprecedented request was made last year by another businessman.
He claimed that there was a significant public interest in knowing if Zara, wife of former England rugby captain, Mike Tindall, and Peter had ever lobbied the Home Office on behalf of a man who is said to have businesses and investments — as well as charitable commitments — both in the UK and overseas. Successive judgments — first by the Home Office and then by the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham — concluded that any such information should remain private.
Denham insisted: ‘People have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that information about whether or not they have written to the Home Secretary about a particular subject will not be disclosed to the world at large without their knowledge or consent’. She added: ‘This expectation is not removed because someone is prominent or well known, for example because they are members of the Royal Family.’
[From The Daily Mail]
If someone wanted to know what Johnny Hon (or anyone else) was paying Zara and Peter, I would say it was just a tabloid curiosity and who cares? Shady people are shady, and rich people pay people for stupid things. But it’s very curious that there is some concern (perhaps legitimate) that Zara and Peter are being paid to lobby on behalf of their Chinese financier? It’s a not-so-subtle lobbying scheme, and it doesn’t bode well that the government is covering it up with a “nothing to see here, folks!” If Zara and Peter were NOT lobbying the government, surely the commission would have just said that?
*chuckle* Imagine all of the agita about the Sussexes’ Netflix deal when the Queen’s grandchildren were literally selling themselves as haphazard lobbyists for a foreign entity.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.
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