Prince Charles is facing hypocrisy claims over donations to his charity linked to a mining firm branded one of the world’s worst polluters.
The Prince’s Foundation, which champions environmental issues and sustainable communities, is supported by Alexandra Burt, the granddaughter of an Australian mining magnate.
Her family’s firm, Wright Prospecting, made £88million last year on annual royalties from mines in Pilbara, Western Australia, they sold to Rio Tinto in 1963.
The firm – the world’s second biggest metals and mining conglomerate – was named in 2017 as the 24th worst polluter in the Carbon Majors report, a study of emissions from 1988 to 2015.
It has also been blamed for destroying 46,000-year-old aboriginal relics in the region, where Charles backed a campaign in 2002 to save aboriginal art.
Charles’s charity lists Ms Burt as a donor, describing her as co-founder of luxury hospitality firm The Landsmith Collection – with no mention of her family’s mining legacy.
Mining expert Dr Gavin Mudd, of RMIT University, Melbourne, said: “To me there is hypocrisy here. If you look at what Rio Tinto has done for decades, it’s been always about increasing carbon emissions.
“It’s never been about seriously addressing them.”
Robin Chapple, an MP whose constituency covers Pilbara, added: “When Charles came here in 1994, he wanted to see indigenous architecture – and they took him to Pilbara.
“He saw the gorges and the carvings and has a liking for this art and cultural heritage. So to find out he’s taking funds derived from a company doing irreversible damage does not look good.”
A charity spokesman said: “The Prince’s Foundation is an independent charity. All donors are subject to appropriate due diligence checks and approved by committee.”
Rio Tinto described the 2017 Carbon Majors report as “historic”.
They said: “In our 2019 Climate Change Report, published in February this year, we said that since 2008 we had reduced the absolute emissions from our managed operations by 46 per cent and reduced our emissions intensity by 29 per cent.
“This year we set new targets to reduce our emissions intensity by 30 per cent and our absolute emissions by 15 per cent by 2030.”
A spokeswoman for Ms Burt said The Landsmith Collection was focused on “sustainable development”.
She said Alexandra and her husband support The Prince’s Foundation because of “shared philosophies”.
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