Filipino taxpayers may have already unknowingly given a gift to the former Prince of Wales and now King Charles III – at least 40 years prior to his ascension to the throne.
The gift came in the form of a speedboat reportedly given by then-former first lady Imelda Marcos, the other half of the infamous conjugal dictatorship during the administration of Ferdinand E. Marcos from 1965 to 1986.
A photo on the Getty Images shows King Charles III, then just heir to the throne occupied by his mom Queen Elizabeth II, riding a speedboat named “Imelda” while on a holiday trip in the Isles of Scilly in Great Britain.
The caption of the photo taken by Tim Graham tagged the boat as a “gift from the First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos.”
A 1978 article by the Washington Post also discussed the speedboat, stating that it was built by the company of a certain Eduardo Marcelo who’s involved in a shipyard business owned by one of Imelda’s brothers and “remained close to the Marcos family.”
“[Marcelo] presented one of his boat building firm’s runabouts to Imelda Marcos a few years ago, [Imelda] shipped it to Prince Charles of England as a gift,” the article said.
Imelda and then-prince Charles met in February 1975 during the coronation of King Birendra of Nepal. One photograph shows the two sharing an umbrella. An article from the New York Times published about the coronation also described the meeting:
“At the morning coronation and at a tent on the parade ground in the afternoon, [Imelda] managed to sit beside Prince Charles. ‘She’s certainly keeping Charles amused,’ said a British correspondent. She keeps talking and Charles keeps saying ‘Really? Really?’
From taxpayers money?
There is no known information when exactly the speedboat was given nor its exact value, but what is clear is that it happened during the height of the Marcos family’s amassing illegal wealth from Filipino taxpayers’ money.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as of 2020 already recovered P174.2 billion in Marcos ill-gotten wealth, while it is still running after P125.9 billion more.
The information about the speedboat is cited in a May 2022 article written by Tom Sykes posted on Declassified UK website which focused on “UK’s global footprint.” The Sykes article was recently posted on Facebook by author and history professor Vicente Rafael following the death of Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, September 8.
Giving a member of the British royal family a luxurious gift was part and parcel of the former first lady’s quest to elevate her and her family’s status outside the Philippines, at the expense of Filipinos suffering from poverty and economic crises during the Marcos rule.
Former top Marcos propagandist Primitivo Mijares wrote in his 1976 book The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos that her “international jaunts [were] undertaken on the excuse of opening doors for the New Society.”
“Among Imelda’s varied activities in actively sharing the powers of the dictatorship, she enjoys most the task which gives her the illusions of a woman with vast pretensions of being a world diplomat as she goes about her royal hegira,” Mijares said.
Mijares later disappeared in 1977. His 16-year-old son Boyet was brutally murdered, two of the thousands of victims during Marcos’ Martial Law. Amnesty International said there were 3,240 killed, 70,000 jailed, and 34,000 tortured in the Philippines between 1972 and 1981. – With reports from Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler.com