Prince Andrew has always been his mother’s favorite child, and the defiant messaging from Buckingham Palace on Monday—as the dust settled on Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview, and an allegation was made that he had used the n-word in a meeting with a Foreign Office official—was that he retained the full confidence of the monarch.
A senior royal source told the Evening Standard: “His Royal Highness has the backing of the Queen and his close family, they believe in him totally and think he has shown strength for telling the truth and admitting errors he has made. There is no question of him being ordered to reduce his duties. He wants to get on with his job. He has told the truth, in detail.”
There was careful briefing on how Andrew reportedly spoke to the Queen at a church service on Sunday, describing the interview as a “great success.” To demonstrate her nonchalance, she kept calm and carried on with a horseback ride in Windsor Great Park.
However one person who was less likely to accept Andrew’s positive spin over the interview was Andrew’s fraternal foe Prince Charles, who touched down Monday morning in New Zealand for a royal tour which looks set to be completely overshadowed by the controversy over Andrew.
“Charles’ jealous streak is well known,” one friend of the family told The Daily Beast, “I can’t imagine he’ll be anything less than absolutely bloody furious about this.”
“Charles does not want to inherit a crown that has been tarnished, scratched, and dented by a fresh round of scandals," said royal writer Christopher Andersen, author of the best-selling Diana’s Boys.
“Once he is king, he will almost certainly read Andrew the riot act, if he hasn’t already, strip him of many of his duties and responsibilities, and put him under the royal equivalent of might loosely be described as house arrest—a life of unlimited luxury and pomp, of course, but under the reign of Charles III, the Duke of York’s freedom to pursue his personal appetites will be significantly curtailed.”
Of course, Charles was all smiles as he undertook his first official engagements of the New Zealand tour.
While Andrew’s humiliation will be the cause of absolutely no satisfaction to Charles, who has always recognized the danger of wayward peripheral members of the family to himself and the institution, it does at least show the wisdom of the future king for the ruthless way in which he disinherited Andrew and his children in 2012, cutting them out of the inner circle of royalty very publicly by forbidding their presence on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
The author and royal biographer Penny Junor, who is close to Charles and Camilla, told The Daily Beast that, as king, Charles would be unlikely to do anything dramatic, such as stripping Andrew of his HRH status, partly for fear of drawing yet more attention to his troublesome brother.
“That would be pretty unthinkable,” she said. “However it’s perfectly possible that he might not be given too many royal jobs and engagements. But his family do think that he is innocent of the underlying charge.”
Undeniably, Charles’s assessment that having Andrew involved in the inner circle of family was of no benefit to The Firm has been proved absolutely spot on. This crisis would be much, much worse for the royals if Andrew still had a senior and highly visible role.
The PR and crisis management consultant Mark Borkowski told The Daily Beast: “He hasn’t had a major role in public life since about 2011, but the reason he did this interview was to try and carry on with the little bit of public life he still has.”
Borkowski says the fact that KPMG stopped sponsoring Pitch At The Palace in October gives a clue as to how the walls have been steadily closing in on Andrew’s existence: “He is reliant on his status and royal connections to wander around giving people completely useless advice about business entrepreneurship.”
Borkowski says that redemption is always possible and points to the example of the disgraced politician John Profumo, who was caught up in a 1960s sex scandal but then reinvented himself, working as a volunteer at Toynbee Hall, a charity in East London.
He became its chief fundraiser and in 1975, he was appointed a Commander of the British Empire.
But would Andrew ever have the necessary humility for such a voyage of personal betterment?
Andersen doubts it: “I’m old enough to remember covering Prince Andrew’s headline-grabbing relationship with Koo Stark and his 'Randy Andy' phase back in the early 1980’s. Nothing ever really changed.
“Andrew has been at the center of so many scandals—can we forget his ex-wife Fergie’s blatant, caught-on-tape attempt to sell access to him for $700,000?—it can’t come as that much of a surprise to the Queen or to Charles that something like the Epstein Affair would come along.”
Andersen thinks that the Queen and Charles will be angry with Andrew for once again dragging the royal family into a scandal, “but frankly, I don't think either of them are particularly appalled by Andrew's underlying behavior. They are appalled by the fact that he was reckless enough to get caught.
“With all the other problems going on inside The Firm right now—the rift between William and Harry, Megan Markle's obvious unhappiness—the revelations concerning Andrew and Epstein are just tossing more gasoline on the fire. Simply put, the monarchy is starting to look a lot shakier than it did just one year ago—and Andrew's fumbled attempts at explaining away his shocking private life aren’t helping.”