Prince Charles first met Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1998, apparently after hearing about her through friends.
Following Diana’s untimely death the previous year, his popularity in Britain had plummeted.
At the same time Batmanghelidjh and her two-year-old charity, then relatively unknown, were hungry for publicity, validity and prestige.
Each, it seems, found an ally in the other, with Charles, the ultimate establishment figure, helping the now-defunct Kids’ Company to secure some of the £46 million of taxpayers’ money it received between 2000 and 2015, in the process burnishing his image.
Yet – far more disturbingly – the Prince of Wales was also instrumental in introducing Batmanghelidjh to the possibilities of brain ‘research’ experiments – to which some vulnerable Kids’ Company children were later subjected.
For these reasons, the importance of the role he played in the promotion of Kids’ Company is undeniable.
According to Batmanghelidjh the heir to the throne was so taken with her during their first encounter that he agreed on the spot to start working with her.
In 2009 she recalled their first meeting thus: “I had a call out of the blue that Prince Charles wanted to visit [Kids’ Company’s drop-in centre in south London]. He came down, spoke to the kids and got very tearful. Then he asked me to get into the back seat of his car. It was just Charles, his driver and me, and he turned to me and said: ‘Why do you do this?’ I explained how our social care system was not fit for purpose, that of 550,000 children referred to child protection every year, only 33,000 were put on the register because of lack of capacity, and that Kids’ Company picked up the pieces of a failed system.”
Batmanghelidjh claimed Charles told her: “I’ve long suspected this but people don’t always tell me the full story. I want to help.”
She went on: “He asked me to join him at an event that afternoon in the City where he introduced me to 600 business leaders and gave me the first of many platforms to spread my message.”
Whether or not this story is entirely true, it is the case that Charles and Batmanghelidjh have known each other for almost 20 years.
He visited Kids’ Company’s offices at least five times and effected all sorts of useful introductions to influential – and rich – people.
Yet whereas he has been happy to praise her publicly in the past, providing hugely valuable support for her charity’s work, he is now remarkably coy when her name is mentioned.
For example, when I asked his office a set of questions about his links to Batmanghelidjh and her charity for the purposes of this article, it supplied nothing but an unhelpfully bland comment.
Yet in 2009, long before a string of revelations contributed to the closure of Kids’ Company, Prince Charles was happy to boast of their friendship.
It was reported that year how, seven years earlier, in 2002, the heir to the throne sent Batmanghelidjh a sheaf of 25 so-called ‘clinical papers‘ looking at the impact of clinical abuse on brain development.
The Prince’s view – that a child’s brain would alter depending on external factors – put him ‘ahead of his time’, Charles claimed.
Where these ‘clinical papers’ originated is unclear – and the fact that Batmanghelidjh had – and has – no formal clinical or medical qualifications seems not to have occurred to whoever knew these papers were sent to Batmanghelidjh. Prince Charles is, of course, a promoter of the junk science of homeopathy, so the mention of allegedly ‘clinical’ papers in this context rings alarm bells.