Just for a moment after the death of his father, Prince Philip, it looked like his wayward son, Prince Andrew, was working—or perhaps worming—his way back into the frontline of royal life.
He popped up on TV screens to give a brief impromptu interview in which he spoke of his mother’s grief.
He came close to pulling off a coup by using the funeral to claim his naval position as admiral—a post he was due to inherit on his 60th birthday but voluntarily deferred as the Jeffrey Epstein scandal blew up. A London tailor was said to have been busy making his admiral’s uniform when the queen intervened, ordering all men to wear civvies.
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While this decision artfully avoided Andrew’s request for a promotion, it was in fact specifically targeted at sparing Harry the humiliation of being the only male Windsor on parade that day not in military uniform. Andrew is quite entitled to wear the military uniform of a vice admiral, a position he still holds. Unlike Harry, he was never forced to give up his military associations. It was notable that he was seated next to his mother at the funeral (although COVID rules mandated an empty seat between them).
It appeared to many that Andrew was using the crisis of his father’s death and his status as his mother’s favorite to achieve his long-held dream—a comeback to royal life. But Buckingham Palace pushed back hard against that impression, briefing certain newspapers that Andrew had been freelancing when he made his on-camera appearance.
Dan Wootton, the journalist who first broke the news that Harry and Meghan were leaving the U.K., reported in the Daily Mail that sources had told him: “Prince Andrew might hope that this sad situation changes things, but Prince Charles is adamant there is no way back while allegations hang over him. He spoke on camera in a private capacity because this is a family event. No one can stop him doing that.”
Then, this week, a succession of curious events befell Andrew. First, his establishment of a business with a dubious former private banker was exposed and swiftly wound up, and then on Tuesday evening, it was announced that Prince Charles was to be the new patron of Britain’s premier musical ensemble, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The timing of the announcement seems far from accidental. The patronage of the RPO was one of Andrew’s most significant roles and for Charles to take it on, as the organization prepares to mark its 75th anniversary, is a message of such non-subtlety that even the rhino-skinned Andrew will not be able to miss it.
He may be his mother’s favorite, but there will be no room at the inn for him under the reign of King Charles.
A source close to Andrew told The Daily Beast, “The duke remains stepped back from royal duties until the legal process has been resolved. Until then, the duke is sensitive to the public mood and to the fact that the institution must come first.”