‘Prince Andrew and the pervert’ might once have seemed like a sensationalist headline; these days we just ask “which one”?
Yes, that’s right, ‘Randy Andy’ has cloaked himself in shame once more, and you get the very strong impression that he’s done it to spite his brother, Charles. Harry and Meghan were not the only ones who came off poorly at Prince Philip’s funeral, and it might yet be that Andrew is the ultimate loser.
There is no comparison between Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew, and, despite the “Sussex Squad” of online trolls (yep, including many Russians), it’s simply not true that Brits and the British press don’t draw a distinction. Prince Andrew is twice as an unpopular as the Duchess of Sussex - she is at a lifetime low of -39 approval, but Prince Andrew is spelunking in the basement with -79% approval. The Duke of York is almost as unpopular as the Queen is popular (+85% approval).
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The ways in which Andrew has disgraced himself recently are manifold. First, Andrew, without permission, gave a comment to the news about his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, in a naked and shocking attempt to use a dead man, and the sympathy for his children, to claw his way back into royal life. The Queen may have been too sunk in sorrow to bother much about it, but Palace courtiers and Prince Charles threw up the red flag. Then, Andrew demanded to wear an “Admiral’s uniform” behind his father. He is a ceremonial Vice-Admiral of the Fleet (disgracefully), his promotion to Admiral having been halted when he was kicked out of ‘working royal’ life. The decision to wear civilian dress was presented as ‘sparing Harry embarrassment’ but in honesty it was to spare the Crown embarassment from having a pervert walking behind Philip’s coffin in the regalia of an officer and a gentleman. Andrew may ceremonially be one, but he is no longer the other, if he ever were.
After this snub, and snub it was - because ‘the Palace’ (professional courtiers) leaked the ‘civilian dress’ against Andrew, the next bombshell dropped. Andrew has formed a company with a former Coutts banker accused of groping a 20 year old intern. Not only was this leaked, along with the fact that it didn’t have to file accounts, but it was further leaked that Andrew was ordered to abandon it by the Queen. Make no mistake, this is the equivalent of a royal slap in the face from Buck House. Next, you have to couple this embarrassment with the news that the Prince of Wales has assumed one of Andrew’s former patronages. So what, an American might say. Well, you, see the announcement is not about the patronage (a famous orchestra) - it’s really about Charles responding to “Team York” (Andrew and a couple of arms-dealing Saudi Arabians) leaking hopefully about Andrew’s “return to royal life” because “Ghislaine won’t call me as a witness”.
The announcement is, essentially, Prince Charles and Prince William telling Andrew and America that Prince Andrew is never coming back. More remains to be done, the HRH must be stripped from Andrew. In one sense, Charles will be reluctant to push his famously conflict-avoidant mother now, when she is grieving at 95, and alone for the first time in her adult life. But in another, the drumbeat of his eventual coronation is getting louder… Her Majesty is, indeed, 95 years old. Charles will not want to start his reign with public battles over kicking Andrew, Meghan, Harry, and by that time, Prince Archie and the new Princess of Sussex out of the monarchy. He is going to hope that Her Majesty makes the decision in advance, so that this summer, Lady Mountbatten Windsor, as Harry’s daughter will be, is where the Sussex titles stop.
Americans may see Charles’s desire to take away an existing HRH as racist, but British royal watchers know differently. Years ago Charles lobbied the Queen to remove the existing HRH / Princess status from Their Royal Highnesses Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. He has always wanted a small monarchy. But Prince Andrew, their father, called the move “spiteful”, and Beatrice and Eugenie were allowed to stay princesses.
The issue is far more urgent now. Beatrice and Eugenie were nothing worse than spoiled and pampered princesses who were not doing the job of a royal, whereas Meghan is seen as out to damage Kate and the Crown and Andrew - a billion times worse - is seen as being a pervert. Removing the HRH will slim down the monarchy, yes, but it will also get rid of threats to it. The greatest of these is most certainly not Harry and Meghan Sussex; it is the Ghislaine Maxwell trial, set for this summer, when the Palace is - with justification - terribly afraid that new and worse details about Andrew will leak to the press. Monarchists are hoping that Andrew’s princely rank and HRH are removed before that trial begins.