Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview aired in November 2019. It was a catastrophe. For a few days after the interview aired, Buckingham Palace kept its head in the proverbial sand, refusing to change their messaging from “everyone thinks the interview went well.” I still remember that, and how out-of-touch BP looked. Finally, Prince Charles laid down the law: he convinced his mother that Andrew must “step down” and relinquish a public role. Andrew was allowed to make it seem like it was his decision, and he “removed himself from public life” while still retaining his lease on Royal Lodge, his HRH style and his ducal title. He’s also been funded by the Queen, from her Duchy of Lancaster funds, ever since.
What followed the Newsnight interview was predictably awful – Andrew still had the Queen’s ear, and he remained her favorite. She was part of his now years-long effort to rehabilitate his image and “come back” to the royal fold publicly. He went with her to church, they went riding together, he visited her frequently at Windsor Castle, he got her new puppies. At various points in the past two years, Andrew genuinely believed he could come back, even though Prince Charles held the line and said “no way.”
So it’s pretty funny/interesting to see the multitude of stories this week about how NOW Prince Andrew must do what’s best and fall on his sword (or something) and really be thrown out of the royal family. The only person who needs convincing is Queen Elizabeth, and she remains unconvinced. A source close to Andrew told Richard Kay at the Daily Mail: “Within the family he is seen as someone who has behaved idiotically but he is ‘blood’, so they will support him.” Meanwhile, Kay says it plainly: the Queen can’t and won’t make the decisions about Andrew at this point because she can’t be objective, “Andrew was asked by his siblings to be his mother’s most frequent family visitor. It means decisions about his future are likely to be made by Prince Charles rather than the Queen.”
Meanwhile, there are calls to “de-royal” Andrew, but I doubt those calls will get much traction. By “de-royal,” that would mean yanking his HRH style and perhaps putting his ducal title into abeyance. Something few people are really talking about: Andrew is still technically the royal patron of several military branches and charities. Buckingham Palace has thrown around their weight to ensure that Andrew remains the patron too, much to everyone’s dismay. Here are some other quotes from various royal commentators:
Ingrid Seward, Editor in Chief of Majesty magazine, said the Queen would likely only make a decision about Andrew’s titles as “a last resort” adding she would be “very surprised” if anything happened immediately. But the expert noted the duke could be made to “relinquish” his patronages.
“It’s not going to be at the top of [the Queen's] list of things she wants to do,” Ingrid explained. “It’s unprecedented. She will probably say to Andrew keep your title Duke of York but you’ve got to relinquish your military appointments regardless of where you stand in this case. I don’t think it’s going to be immediate. It may be, but I would be very surprised.”
Royal biographer Phil Dampier told The Sun Online: “This will obviously do nothing to help his reputation, I think he is finished as a working royal. It was suggested he would try and get back this year for the 40th anniversary of the Falklands events but that’s not going to happen for him the way this is going. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in time, he loses his military patronages.”
Speaking to the BBC, media lawyer Mark Stephens said a crisis of this scale was unprecedented for the royal family. “Prince Andrew has nowhere to go. He’s effectively a dead man walking as far as the royal family is concerned. But the one thing he can do is to accept the responsibility, accept the blame, accept that he has to fall on his sword for the sake of the wider royal family.”
[From The Sun]
Again, all of these people are trying to convince the Queen to do something. And she’s not going to. She doesn’t care. She never cared. Andrew is her favorite. It really will be Charles who makes the decision here, and I would imagine that he’s weighing his options. And even if Charles does make some bigger calls, the Queen will still take Andrew to church and she will still pay his bills.
Update: This just dropped.
Update #2: The Queen just yanked all of Andrew’s military affiliations and royal patronages. He’s still HRH the Duke of York though. We’ll have more tomorrow!
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, WENN.