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.”