Prince Andrew’s spectacular fall from grace

Where does one go from here?
Loading the player...

When I was growing up Prince Andrew was my mum’s favourite prince. Of the three brothers – Prince Charles, Edward and Andrew – she said he was “the goodlooking one”.

She thought the royal cut a dapper figure in his military uniform and she followed his romance with Sarah Ferguson as closely as she had Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s.

She died before his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, were born in 1988 and 1990, but did get to see the prince and Fergie’s wedding in 1986, which was televised to a worldwide audience of 500,000.

How disappointed she would be if she was still with us to watch the royals now.

His divorce in 1996 she would have coped with and she even would have found a way to downplay the Randy Andy moniker that developed over the years and seemed to stick.

But in the past few weeks allegations made by American mother-of-three Virginia Roberts about the royal have made it much more difficult to dismiss the sleazy nickname.

Prince Andrew has most spectacularly fallen from grace, effectively becoming the royal family’s very own “pervy uncle”.

Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre) has alleged that she was forced to have sex with the prince on three occasions after she was introduced to him at Tramp nightclub in London in 2001 by convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his girlfriend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. She was a 17-year-old teenager at the time and said she’d been trafficked by Epstein, and worked for him as a masseuse.

The eighth in line to the throne has vehemently denied the allegations and also downplayed his friendship with Epstein, who died by suicide in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

In a BBC interview with Emily Maitlis, the royal said he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia Roberts.

He claimed that he couldn’t have been there at the alleged time in 2001 as he had taken his eldest daughter Princess Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey.

And a photograph showing him with Virginia Roberts he said could have been “doctored”.

He declared he doesn’t party or indulge in public displays of affection.

Loading the player...

He also drilled down on a claim Virginia Roberts had made about him sweating, claiming he couldn’t sweat due to a medical condition he had developed after being shot at in the Falkland’s War.

He said he “let the side down” (meaning the royal family) by staying with Epstein in New York in 2010, after the disgraced financier was released from prison following his conviction for sex offences.

While the royal had elected to do the interview (without clearance from his mother, the Queen) to quash growing public scrutiny against him he only served to make matters worse, coming across as arrogant, self-centred and disconnected.

Within hours of the interview images emerged of the prince partying and showing public displays of affection at parties in 2007 and 2008. In some you could say he looked a little sweaty.

In the interview the Prince had failed to explicitly express sympathy for Epstein’s victims or directly denounce Epstein’s behavior.

Catherine Mayer, Prince Charles’s biographer and founder of the Women’s Equality Party, told Channel 4 that his interview “entirely erased the victims.”

“Even at the end where he was given this chance ‘is there anything more you’d like to say?’ he couldn’t even think of talking about them.”

prince andrew

And then Virginia Roberts followed up with her own BBC interview.

“I’m calling BS on him,” she stated simply.

“He knows what happened, I know what happened.

“And there’s only one of us telling the truth.”

Virginia Roberts told Panorama that she had been forced to sleep with the Duke of York in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands as a 17-year-old in 2001.

“Ghislane tells me I have to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey and that made me sick.”

“I just didn’t expect it from royalty. I didn’t expect it from someone people look up to and admire.

“It was disgusting. He got up and said thanks and walked out and I sat there in bed, I felt horrified and ashamed and dirty.

“The next day Ghislane pats me on the back and said ‘you made him really happy’.”

Since the televised interviews Buckingham Palace has forced the Duke of York to step down from his public duties and many of the charities, companies and institutions he formerly worked with have cut ties with him.

New reports are emerging that he may be subpoenad to testify in court, in pending sex trafficking cases against Jeffrey Epstein – five women have accused him of abusing them.

This is far from the first time the Queen’s third child has embarrassed the royal family and shown a worrying lack of judgement.

To name a few:

In 1999 while in Malta, Andrew suggested royal staff had regularly lied about events – even comparing the palace machine to the old Soviet regime.

In January 2001 he reportedly upset his mother the Queen by being photographed sunbathing on a luxury catamaran off the coast of Thailand surrounded by topless women.

In 2007 he attracted criticism when he sold his former marital home Sunninghill in Surrey to a Kazakshstan billionaire for £15million, £3million over the asking price.

The following year, in February 2008, he was accused of a distinct lack of diplomacy when he told an American audience that “those in responsible positions in the US” should have listened to the British and learned from our experiences as a colonial power before invading Iraq.

Also that year, a secret cable from a US ambassador, later revealed by Wikileaks, showed the Duke accused the Serious Fraud Office of “idiocy” and suggested France was corrupt.

In February 2010 he hosted a Buckingham Palace lunch for Sakher El Materi, son-in-law of the Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali who had been ousted in January.

He was also caught up in the scandal of May 2010 when his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson offered undercover reporters pretending to be wealthy businessman access to him in return for a large cash payout.

Throughout this latest scandal Andrew’s ex-wife Fergie has continued to support him, posting on social media after his disastrous BBC interview:

“It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs.

“Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people.

“I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man… For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch.

“I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour.”

It’s his daughters, Eugenie and Beatrice, for which you must feel the most empathy. No one would choose to see their parent fall from grace, especially in such a public way.

In recent days it has been reported that Prince Charles plans to reduce the number of working royals in the royal family once he is king.

Brittani Barger, the deputy editor of Royal Central, told the Daily Star, “I think the Andrew crisis has definitely strengthened Prince Charles’s desire for a slimmed-down monarchy.

“Prince Andrew is now out of the picture.

“I don’t see him ever undertaking royal duties again, and any hope that his daughters would is now gone.

“So the process of slimming the monarchy has already begun as we know Charles was pushing his mother to meet with Andrew and have him step back from his royal duties.

“I think when it’s all said and done, the monarchy will be Charles and his children and grandchildren.”

Charlie Proctor, the editor of Royal Central, also agrees the royal crisis has only increased Charles’ need for a reduced monarchy.

Where does that leave Prince Andrew? Certainly not as the dapper young prince with the world at his feet, as he was once seen.

He now cuts a rather isolated and disgraced royal figure.

Related stories

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.