Fact Check: NO Evidence That Volodymyr Zelenskyy Bought Highgrove House From Britain's King Charles III

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: NO Evidence That Volodymyr Zelenskyy Bought Highgrove House From Britain's King Charles III Unsupported

Did Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy buy the Highgrove mansion from the United Kingdom's King Charles III? No, that's not true: A representative of Grant Harrold, a former royal butler who was cited as the main source in an online article making the claim, told Lead Stories that the claim is "completely false." Lead Stories found several signs pointing to AI-generated input and a coordinated campaign to amplify this false claim, backed by Russian state TV and the Russian Embassy in South Africa.

The story appeared in an article (archived here) on the London Crier website where it was published on April 1, 2024, under the title:

Zelenskyy Acquires Highgrove House, Former

Residence of King Charles for Β£20Million

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 10.59.55 AM.png

(Source: London Crier screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 14:59:55 2024 UTC)

No property records

Highgrove House, located within a 2-hour drive from London, is one of the real royal residences, but the speculations about its sale to Zelenskyy are not grounded in facts.

Acquired from a son of former Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1980, Highgrove House became (archived here) the residence of the Prince of Wales that year. At the time, it was one of the titles of King Charles III.

When he became the king, his former title of the Prince of Wales was transferred (archived here) to his son William in September 2022. So did a property associated with this title, Highgrove House, as public records available for a fee on the UK land registry website (archived here) show:

Screen Shot 2024-04-11 at 2.06.45 PM.png

(Source: UK land registry screenshot taken on Thu Apr 11 18:06:45 2024 UTC)

As of this writing, Prince William was registered as a sole owner of Highgrove House:

Screen Shot 2024-04-11 at 2.04.50 PM.png

(Source: UK land registry screenshot taken on Thu Apr 11 18:04:50 2024 UTC)

Publicly available property information accessible on the same government website without registration or fees does not show any recent sales:

Screen Shot 2024-04-11 at 12.59.49 PM.png

(Source: UK's land registry screenshot taken on Thu Apr 11 16:59:49 2024 UTC)

In an email sent to Lead Stories on April 10, 2024, the UK land registry added:

There is a leasehold title (GR457234) in the name of a company, 'Highgrove Nominees Limited', since August 2021.

The company mentioned in the registry's response is not affiliated with the Ukrainian president. "Highgrove Nominees Limited" is registered at Buckingham Palace (archived here) for "operating of own or leased real estate", and King Charles III is listed (archived here) as a person with "significant control" in the respective documentation.

Fake quote

The London Crier's article was based on a video (archived here) republished from YouTube where it had been originally uploaded on April 1, 2024. That clip claimed that the former royal butler Grant Harrold (archived here) confirmed that Zelenskyy bought the mansion, though the quote attributed to him didn't mention the Ukrainian president at all:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 12.21.52 PM.png

(Source: London Crier screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 16:21:52 2024 UTC)

Harrold's representative Katie Storey told Lead Stories via email on April 8, 2024, that he never said anything about the purported sale:

No interview took place, this story is completely false. Grant hasn't provided any comment on this.

A search for key terms "Grant Harrold" and "Highgrove" across the websites indexed by Google News did not show any credible reporting (archived here) to support the claim that Harrold had talked to the press about sale of Highgrove.

AI-generated input

According to DeepFake-O-Meter (archived here), a tool maintained by the University of Buffalo (archived here), the video from YouTube republished by London Crier utilized AI-generated voice-over: Four out of five measuring models showed that it was unlikely to have been narrated by a human.

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 11.54.32 AM.png

(Source: Deepfake - O - Meter screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 16:54:32 2024 UTC)

The video featured a real estate professional named "Sam Murphy" whose face briefly appeared in the bottom left corner of the screen, but Lead Stories found no confirmation that this person actually exists.

The description of his channel created in February 2024 does not contain any links to professional websites, and all three videos posted by "Sam Murphy" featured different voices, generating a number of views that dramatically exceeded the number of the account's followers:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 2.45.43 PM.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 18:45:43 2024 UTC)

The photo of "Sam Murphy" was unusually blurry and low-quality for a professional headshot, and a Google search (archived here) for a person of this name working in the real estate industry across UK-based websites did not show anyone looking remotely similar to the supposed channel's creator.

About the London Crier

Although London Crier's bottom footer claimed that the outlet's history goes back to 1863, modern-day records reveal that this website was registered roughly a week before (archived here) publishing the claim about the Highgrove mansion.

Contrary to the practice followed by credible media outlets, it doesn't have an About section and does not disclose (archived here) information about its owners or editorial team elsewhere.

A click on the top menu led to the page showing the information about the software, not the website:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 4.17.08 PM.png

(Source: London Crier screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 20:17:08 2024 UTC)

Furthermore, London Crier's bylines are more consistent with internet handles than real people's names. For example, the article in question was published by "admin" (archived here), a writer's profile that lacked both a picture and a description of professional expertise.

According to Hive Moderation (archived here), London Crier's logo is an AI-generated product as well as the narrator's voice in the video on YouTube where the claim originated:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 1.54.07 PM.png(Source: Hive Moderation screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 17:54:07 2024 UTC)

Signs of a coordinated campaign

On April 4, 2024, a report citing the London Crier described as a "British" outlet was aired by the Russian state-controlled Channel One (archived here.) On the next day, the Russian Embassy in South Africa promoted the story on X, also referencing the London Crier:

Screen Shot 2024-04-08 at 4.43.06 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Apr 8 20:43:06 2024 UTC)

Had there been real evidence that such a transfer of property actually taken place, well-established media outlets would have covered it. But a search for "Highgrove House" on Google News (archived here) shows recent fact checks debunking this claim.

Yet, the rumor simultaneously spread on X, formerly known as Twitter, across many languages, including Polish (archived here), Dutch (archived here), Italian (archived here) and Chinese (archived here.)

Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, unsubstantiated claims about the purportedly luxurious lifestyle of the first Ukrainian couple have recurred. For instance, Lead Stories wrote that Zelenskyy didn't purchase such assets as a $20 million mansion in Florida or two yachts worth $75 million and that his wife did not spend over $1.1 million on Cartier jewelry.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the war in Ukraine can be found here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion