Charles again looks to Peat for stalwart defence

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The Independent Online

The first person Prince Charles turned to last night was inevitably his trusted private secretary Sir Michael Peat.

Sir Michael has long been recognised as one of the most powerful of Royal servants having earned the trust of many senior members of the Royal family.

It was earlier this year that Sir Michael was entrusted with compiling the Peat Report following a four-month internal inquiry into the practice of selling royal gifts in the Prince's household in the aftermath of the collapse of the Paul Burrell trial.

The report, published in March, resulted in the resignation of Michael Fawcett, who had orchestrated the sale of numerous "official" gifts, apparently on the explicit instructions of the Prince, in return for 20 per cent commission.

Sir Michael, 54, joined the Royal Household after working as a partner for the investment bank KPMG and swiftly acquired a reputation as a slick and successful operator while working in a string of prestigious positions.

The Eton- and Oxford-educated secretary, whose father and great grandfather held the post of Privy Purse Auditor, was initially employed as the director of Finance and Property Services, HM household for a period of six years.

It was while working at Buckingham Palace as Keeper of the Privy Purse between 1996 and 2002 that Sir Michael was accredited with the modernising role of slashing expenditure, a move which earned him the sobriquet "the axeman".

It also fell upon Sir Michael to write to the former butler Paul Burrell informing him that he would have to vacate his royal home in 1998 following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, despite a personal appeal from the Queen to allow him to stay.

Last November, he left the Queen's staff to replace Stephen Lamport as Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales.

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