Prince Charles parts with 'Fred the Shred'

His reputation has been devalued as savagely as the toxic debts on the books of the Royal Bank of Scotland and the humbling of Sir Fred "The Shred" Goodwin, the bank's former chief executive, continues.

Yesterday, another battalion of troubles arrived – he is to leave his post as chair of the Prince's Trust; the Lothian and Borders police has launched an inquiry into his handling of the RBS rights issue; and he will have to appear before the tough Treasury Select Committee of MPs.

Once one of the most fabulous figures in finance, garlanded with honorary degrees, a knighthood and millions of pounds in bonuses, this son of Paisley, turned master of the universe, had to resign as RBS chief executive in November, having watched the bank he did so much to build into one of the largest finance groups end up semi-nationalised. He has been voted "the world's worst banker" – from a crowded field.

Having shredded so many jobs in the banks he ran, his own employment prospects have now gone from riches to rags; he is to step aside as chairman of the Prince's Trust.

A princely source confided: "It is out of the question for a business figure charity to have as its figurehead and role model a man who's done so much economic damage."

Even his old friend Gordon Brown appears to have gone off him. Last week, the Prime Minister refused to say whether Sir Fred should lose his knighthood, as many suggest.

How did it come to this? The credit crunch is one answer; the ABN Amro takeover is another. As Scots recover from their Burns suppers, the poet's lines come to mind:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain',
For promis'd joy!

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