Prince Harry has expressed criticism over charities that are "built around egos" and cites past financial mistakes made by an organization he co-founded to help children in the kingdom of Lesotho in Africa.
The 30-year-old, like his older brother Prince William, is a patron of several group. Harry made his comments in Abu Dhabi at a fundraiser at the fifth annual Sentebale Polo Cup, which he also took part in, the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reported on Thursday.
The event was held to raise funds for Sentebale, an organization co-founded by Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. The group, whose name means "Forget Me Not" aims to help children in need, including the some 37,000 affected by HIV and AIDS, in the largely impoverished country. The organization was criticized over its handling of donations several years ago.
"It started really, really small, a very small group of us saying we're not going to use the funds for other people, it's going to be all for the kids and pretending we knew what we were doing," The Telegraph quoted Harry as saying at the polo match, which took place at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club. "Ten years down the line we have made a couple of mistakes and in turn learned from our mistakes."
The charity's 2008 records showed that just 8 percent of donations raised over the past year, which included proceeds from a memorial concert for Harry and William's late mother Princess Diana, went towards the organization's work in Lesotho. The Telegraph reported that high setup costs were blamed and that by 2010, the figure had risen to 65 percent, out of some two million pounds ($3.1 million) that was raised.
"There are so many charities that are, dare I say it, built around egos," Harry added, according to The Telegraph. "A lot of charities survive on those egos. But from my point of view and from us at the foundation, being in that position we have the opportunity to bring so many people that are doing great things together to improve things quicker, rather than waiting five years."
At the annual fundraiser, Harry took part in the sporting event himself, like he has done in past years. He led his team to victory with a score of 5-4 against a team led by Argentinian professional polo player Nacho Figueras, an ambassador of the charity, Hello! magazine reported.
Spice Girls singer Gerri Halliwell and her fiancé, Red Bull Formula 1 driver Christian Horner, watched from the sidelines.
Harry has met members of her pop group several times.
"I have seen him grow up," Halliwell told The Telegraph. "It is brilliant what he is doing with his life."
Harry, then 13 years old, William and their father Prince Charles had attended the premiere of the Spice Girls movie Spice World in London in 1997. Also that year, Harry and his dad, who is the first in line to the British throne, met the pop group at their concert in South Africa, which surrounds Lesotho.
Some $1 million was raised at the polo match in Abu Dhabi to benefit Harry's charity, according to United Arab Emirates newspaper The National. At the event, the prince also met with the polo club's chairman, Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, and his son, who posed with the British royal and the polo teams with the Sentebale Polo Cup trophy. See more photos below.