0626-Former UK royal hoaxed

Former Prince of Wales, former Duke of Sussex, Mr Henry fell victim to Russian pranksters after Lorraine Heggessey, the former head of the Royal Foundation, unwittingly forwarded their email to him, The Telegraph can reveal. The pranksters managed to make direct contact with the Duke by sending a message to Ms Heggessey, purporting to be from Greta Thunberg’s director and claiming that the teenage climate activist was keen to speak to him. As a result, Prince Harry was duped into discussing a range of issues, from the difficulties surrounding his decision to leave the Royal Family to his opinion of Donald Trump. He also sympathised with the plight of the fictional island of Chunga-Changa and offered to help rescue imaginary penguins from land-locked Belarus. Royal aides were keen to distance themselves from the humiliating prank last week. Buckingham Palace aides made clear that it had nothing to do with them, while initial reports that the hoaxers had gone through the Sussexes’ new Hollywood PR advisers were also swiftly denied. Ms Heggessey, 63, who became the first female controller of BBC One in 2000, declined to comment on her involvement on Saturday. While she failed to make any security checks, sources insisted it was not her job to do so. The prank happened at a time when the Sussexes are in flux after recently breaking away from the Royal Foundation to form their own charitable entity. Their new private secretary, Fiona Mcilwham, had only just started, and Ms Heggessey is thought to have been trying to help. The Duke himself took the email at face value and decided to make contact. It is thought to have been prompted by comments he made during a tour of southern Africa, when he said he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ms Thunberg and warned that the planet faced a “race against time – which we are losing”.
The email from hoaxers Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov was headed “Call or meeting with Greta Thunberg”, and the address was set up in the name of Ueli Maurer, then President of the Swiss Confederation. To the duo’s astonishment, Ms Heggessey forwarded the message to Prince Harry, who made contact via his personal email address from Vancouver Island in Canada, to which he and Meghan Markle had decamped for a sabbatical. He later called them without withholding his number, chatting openly on two separate occasions, on New Year’s Eve and January 22. The Duke has since had to change his personal email address and phone number, while royal aides said they hoped the incident would act as a “wake up call” as well as being of the vast amount of work done behind palace walls to protect members of the Royal Family. Ms Heggessey was chief executive of the Royal Foundation for almost three years before stepping down in the autumn. She was succeeded on October 1 by Jason Knauf, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s communications secretary, who oversaw a review of the Royal Foundation shortly before it was confirmed that the Sussexes and Cambridges would split their charitable ventures and forge their own paths. The Sussexes said last year: “It has been a great pleasure to work alongside Lorraine over the past couple of years, to champion the causes that we feel so strongly about, and we wish her well for the next stage of her career.”
The Royal Foundation was set up by Prince William and Prince Harry a decade ago and has focused on wildlife conservation and mental health, as well as supporting the armed forces and young people.

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