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Royals targeted in Russia’s disinformation war with fake story about King Charles selling Highgrove

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Royals targeted in Russia’s disinformation war with fake story about King Charles selling Highgrove

Fake news sites falsely claim King has sold Highgrove House to Volodymyr Zelenskyy for £20 million

A Russian disinformation network has made a series of false claims about the British royal family in its ongoing information war with Ukraine.

Royals targeted in Russia’s disinformation war with fake story about King Charles selling Highgrove

 

Among the incorrect allegations being made by pro-Kremlin campaigners is the suggestion circulating on fake news sites that King Charles has sold his royal residence Highgrove House to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for £20m.

The bizarre report was initially made in a YouTube video that featured someone who claimed to be the estate agent behind the made-up sale. However, security experts told The Times the character, named Sam Murphy, appeared to be AI-generated.

The news was then spread by a fake British outlet before it was circulated by a number of English, French, German and Italian bots on X, formerly Twitter.

A website called The London Crier published an article featuring a supposed interview with Charles’ former butler Grant Harrold. In it, Mr Harrold is claimed to have confirmed the sale of Highgrove as having been completed through Mr Zelenskyy’s wife Olena on 29 February, and that staff at the royal residence had been laid off.

Even an official Russian embassy account then tweeted the fake news to its thousands of followers.

However, Mr Harrold, who is now a royal commentator, told The Times that the story and the interview it claimed to be based on was entirely made up. His spokeswoman said: “This story is completely false and Grant has made no comment on this. There was no interview that took place.”

Kyiv was even forced to publicly refute the Highgrove tale, which bears similarities with other attempts, ungrounded in any fact, to imply the Zelenskyys are financially benefiting from the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian state media reported: “This is a fake. There is no information in the British media about Zelensky’s purchase of the mansion, and there are no official statements on the matter.”

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