Prince Charles' architecture charity under
fire over Bahrain housing deal


Poundbury in Dorset, photo by MarilynJane

News: the architectural principles behind the Prince of Wales' controversial Poundbury development (above) will be exported to Bahrain in a move that has angered human rights campaigners.

Under a £700,000 deal with the Bahraini government, the prince's architectural charity will advise on the construction of a 4000-home development in the south of the Gulf state, which has recently been criticised for its human rights record.

Campaigners said the deal would send a message that the British royal family approves of the regime in Bahrain, where pro-democracy activists claim the monarchy's security forces are responsible for the deaths of 87 people in the past two years.

The Prince's Foundation for Building Community, which oversaw the construction of Poundbury in Dorset, a new town devised by Charles and architect Leon Krier using traditional British building typologies, will offer technical and engineering expertise to the project, which could eventually be expanded across Bahrain.

Prince Charles, photo by Mark William Penny, Shutterstock

Charles escorted Bahrain's crown prince around Poundbury in 2007 and last month hosted the country's housing minister at Clarence House in London. Representatives for the prince said his personal ties with the Bahraini royal family had not played a direct role in the negotiations for the deal.

The prince is well known for his views on architecture and has repeatedly clashed with architects and developers over projects such as the proposed Chelsea barracks redevelopment in central London.

Graham Smith, the chief executive of anti-monarchy campaigners Republic, told the Independent: "Prince Charles should be ashamed. By orchestrating this immoral deal he is giving legitimacy to one of the world’s most repressive regimes. The Bahraini people need solidarity and support – not their own Poundbury."

David Mepham, UK director of campaign group Human Rights Watch, said credible allegations of torture carried out by the Bahraini regime had been made recently. "The UK should be pressing the Bahrainis to investigate those abuses and hold those people to account," he told the Guardian.

Photograph of Poundbury by MarilynJane; photograph of Prince Charles by Mark William Penny/

  • Gugenheim is next

    At least he is not being a hypocrite.

  • Albert F

    I’m sure the pretentious and self-righteous Graham Smith doesn’t use a car or any other machine where the fuel oil might have come from Bahrain.

  • Georgios

    Yet buildings like this might be catalysts for revolts.

  • christine

    Poundbury in Bahrain? Where’s the contextual work? I don’t get it… using traditional British building typologies in the Middle East? How kitsch!

    • zizi

      No Christine, you misunderstood, what the Prince of Wales does is promote LOCAL traditional, sustainable architecture.

  • blah

    Wow that building in the first pic with the blue door just looks viscerally wrong on so many levels, architecture as pastiche.