London: An upcoming star-studded polo event in which Prince William and his new bride are to take part has sparked a ‘cash for access’ controversy.
Questions have been raised about the ‘social event of the decade’ in the exclusive coastal resort of Santa Barbara, California, as wealthy tycoons have paid up to 60,000 pounds to mingle with William and Kate, reports the Daily Mail.
While a 60,000-pounds donation will buy a place on one of the three teams, another 600 people will pay 2,500 pounds just to lunch in the same room as the Royals. It even costs 250 pounds to have a packed lunch and the chance to ‘glimpse William across a polo field’.
The July 9 event will be attended by celebrities including David Beckham, Oprah Winfrey and Sylvester Stallone and will raise more than 3 million pounds for a charity only recently set up in the Prince’s name.
Those riding alongside the Prince on the club’s imported Bermudan grass include attractive blonde Cadillac heiress Melissa Ganzi and Taiwan-born Wesley Ru, who owns America’s largest maker of credit cards.
The event will benefit a new charity called The American Friends of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry and, according to the Palace, ‘hoist the flag’ for Britain.
Controversially, the president of the new US arm of the Princes’ charity is Henry ‘Hank’ Slack. The tycoon, 61, was the right-hand man of mogul Harry Oppenheimer, who controlled South African diamond and gold giants De Beers and Anglo American during the apartheid era.
In a statement, a spokesman for Prince William said: “The couple are delighted to be visiting California . . . to [help] create jobs and investment by deepening the strong bonds between the US and UK.”