King’s Brother Finds it Hard to Shake Image With PM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ A spokesman for Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia would like you to know the prince is a fairly regular guy.
Even if he owns several homes and palaces, has a staff of 4,000 and belongs to the second-richest family in the world.
With an entourage of nearly 100 people and a tractor-trailer filled with luggage, that’s a tough sell when you pull into a hotel - as the royal family did here four weeks ago - at a cost of about $10,000 a day.
Fact and fantasy quickly become blurred.
Take, for example, the story of a Cambridge police officer on the special security detail who said that Turki ordered the air conditioning turned off on the two floors he took over on arriving at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square.
″They like to keep it like it is in their country. All the cops working up there are dying,″ said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″A kid told us they even had a space heater up there.″
For Mustapha Aziz, the prince’s political adviser and spokesman, the reaction is typical to princes from oil-rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, under scrutiny since American and other troops were sent there following the Aug. 2 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
″No, the air-conditioning is not off,″ Aziz said. ″That kind of stereotype is too much.
″Everyone thinks we are coming here with many wives, that kind of thing. It does not apply to this family. ... He is out of that picture of greedy princes.″
Still, the 53-year-old prince’s penchant for frequent travel and long stays at expensive hotels is unusual.
The youngest of King Fahd’s six brothers, Turki has no business dealings, lives off his inheritance and does largely philanthropic work. He travels with a staff of 60 to 100, including seven cooks. The costs of about 40 to 50 rooms at the Charles to house workers and set up offices with facsimile machines, telephones and a satellite dish may exceed $10,000.
Aziz said that is not a big entourage for a member of the Fahd family, which is worth $18 billion and is the second richest-family in the world, according to Fortune magazine. ″We have three full shifts,″ he said.
Another police officer said the prince, who has his own security detail, also hired two dozen Cambridge officers at $200 per day.
″That’s for each man,″ said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″And he’s got about eight Harvard cops and some other guys.″
The officer said when the prince’s 11-year-old son wanted to play video games one day, he was escorted to an arcade by four police officers.
″The kid had $300 in quarters with him,″ he added.
Aziz could not confirm or deny those reports. Nor could he hide his irritation.
″The prince does not like to show off. He gives hundreds of donations every month, but he refuses to be identified as the man who gave it. His is not the Trump style,″ said Aziz.
Aziz said that had the Iraqi invasion not occurred, few would have known he was in town to discuss contributions to Harvard and have his three children get medical checkups.
At a recent news conference to discuss events in the Mideast, the prince was affable but unassuming. But the breakfast he offered for reporters was certainly one befitting a prince.
There was cheese - brie, camembert, saga blue and port salut; a dozen fruits; six fruit juices; smoked salmon with caviar; petit filet mignon; Belgium waffles; poached eggs on pumpernickel muffin with basil hollandaise; two preparation stations for egg dishes, and a full Mideast menu.
Waiters presented a long-stemmed red rose to each woman in attendance. And it was all set off by 750 orchids.
Like her husband, Princess Hend wore Western clothes.
She made headlines years ago when she got in a melee with police checking out reports of mistreatment of workers at the prince’s home in Florida. That’s the house where the family created a stir with a lavish birthday party for his son that included a cake topped off with live flamingos.
At one point in the news conference, the princess, whose English is good, interrupted to say the translator had mangled the exchange between a reporter and the prince. He tried again.
″Her royal highness is the type who likes to speak her mind. Everyone in the media try to harm this image,″ said Aziz. ″She is the type of woman for our future.″