As they opened their Order of Service at Monday’s Garter Day ceremony, many guests were reportedly drawn to the name of the Duke of York, who was on the procession list just ahead of that of the Duke of Cambridge.
The newspapers had been full of reports that Andrew would take part in the ceremony – marking his first public appearance since his head turn at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service in March – and everyone was eager to see what kind of entry he would make. Would the pariah prince once again monopolize the spotlight, imperiously waving his blue velvet robes and feathered hat? Or would he have the good sense to retreat to the background this time? At the end, the Royal family decided it was a risk they couldn’t afford to take – at the very last minute Andrew was banned from appearing at all.
The decision came at the eleventh hour, after urgent intervention by Prince William and the Prince of Wales. William would have given the Queen a “him or me” style ultimatum, with a senior insider telling the evening standard“The Duke of Cambridge was adamant. If York insisted on participating publicly, he would withdraw. Charles also expressed concern, amid fears of a public backlash like that seen after Andrew’s surprisingly prominent role at Philip’s memorial service.
It was left to the Queen to reluctantly tell her second son that he could not appear in public at the event. Buckingham Palace described it as a ‘family decision’, but the Duke himself – who a source said had been left ‘crushed and a bit confused’ – went to great lengths to pitch it as a choice personal, with sources close to him revealing he didn’t want to do anything that would “embarrass the Queen or make things difficult”.
All in all, it has resulted in another awkward week for Andrew and raised further questions about his future role in the monarchy. Is there a place for the 62-year-old in royal life? Or should he slip away and live a quiet existence in exile in Windsor? This certainly seems to be what William and Charles were hoping for, but the Duke has other plans. Undaunted by the public’s dislike of him (a recent YouGov poll found Andrew to be the least popular member of the Royal Family), earlier this week it was reported he had lobbied the Queen for her to be reinstated as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards – her most coveted title – in a bid to return to royal duties after she was stripped of all military titles and royal patronages in January following the sexual assault brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. He is also keen to restore his status as HRH and ‘blood prince’, with a source saying he wants his position to be ‘recognized and respected’.
However, it seems unlikely that this will happen. “If Andrew thinks this is all going to happen, he’s delusional,” a well-placed insider said. His older brother is adamant that his days as a working royal are over, with a source close to him quoted as saying in regards to Charles “a path back for the duke is clearly not possible”. William is said to agree.
As for the Queen, Andrew has long been said to be her favorite son, and it’s no secret that he’s her most frequent visitor to Windsor Castle, which is just three miles from the Royal Lodge. , the seven-bedroom home he shares with his ex. -wife Sarah Ferguson. The Duke will be all too aware that time is running out for his royal future. “Andrew is desperate to get back into public life while the Queen is still around because she is the only person who could tolerate this,” says Norman Baker, author of And what are you doing ? : what the royal family does not want you to know. “As soon as the queen is no longer with us, he will be thrown into the darkness outside.”
Andrew’s close relationship with his mother is the main reason he managed to play such a prominent role at Prince Philip’s memorial service earlier in the year, where he shocked everyone – including his own siblings – making a surprise appearance alongside the monarch, ushering her into her front row seat in full view of the cameras. The family were said to have been left blindsided by the move and were later described as “appalled” and “desperate” by their behavior, with the stunt sparking a backlash from the media and general public.
There was much speculation about whether he would cast a similar shadow over the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, where he had planned to attend the service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, until what a positive Covid test ends that. Ultimately, he was out for the entire four-day duration. Even his own daughters have been forced to concede how toxic his public image has become – as Princess Beatrice let him walk her down the aisle for her intimate wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July 2020, the Duke was visibly absent from all the official wedding images released by Buckingham Palace.
Then there is the mess that is his finances. How he affords his lavish lifestyle has long been questioned, with the chaos surrounding the recent sale of an £18million Swiss chalet being a prime example. Earlier in the year, Andrew sought to sell Chalet Helora in Verbier, reportedly to pay off debt owed to his family, who allegedly loaned him money for the Giuffre case settlement, believed to be around 10 million of pounds sterling. The sale was to continue until an anonymous couple came forward to say Andrew owed them £1.6million. It came after French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre – who originally sold her the chalet – revealed the grueling process she had to go through to recover £6.6million the Duke still owed her for the purchase , calling him an “absolute madman”.
And let’s not forget the case of alleged fraudster Selman Turk – currently being prosecuted in the High Court – who gave Andrew a mysterious £750,000 gift in November 2019, believed to be for Princess Beatrice’s wedding. The Duke has since refunded the money, but has not explained why it was paid into his account at Coutts in the first place. As an active royal, Andrew is said to have received around £250,000 a year, but that was said to have ended when he stepped down from official royal duties in 2019 – it has never been confirmed whether this has been succeeded by the Queen paying him from her private earnings. He also received a naval pension of around £20,000 a year. “His finances just don’t add up,” Baker says. “There is no way these two together can cover his vast expenses. There has been money from other sources, and I think in the interest of public accountability, we should know what those sources are.
These days, instead of touring the world with his high-profile friends, the Duke keeps busy by riding in Windsor Great Park and paying daily visits to his mother. Royal commentator Russell Myers said: “Some staff [at Windsor Castle] said, jokingly, that you could set your watch by [Andrew] arriving just before lunch and just before he goes riding… He still lives very high on the hog in that sense. Otherwise, his social calendar appears to be conspicuously empty, with royal watchers noting that the Duke has not visited Clarence House for many months, suggesting relations are frosty between him and Charles. While a source said the Prince of Wales ‘loves his brother and has the ability to sympathize with the slingshots and arrows that [he] continues,” he “concluded long ago that this was probably an insoluble problem. Yet at least there’s always dear old Fergie, who said in a recent interview that she “stands very firmly” by her ex-husband and that he is a “good, kind man.” The couple still reside together in their 30-bedroom Georgian mansion when Ferguson is in the UK, which has its own indoor swimming pool and driving range in the extensive grounds. What to occupy a prince in exile.
So why, you might ask, doesn’t he stay there and just accept that his royal life is over? “It’s a combination of insufferable arrogance and a misplaced sense of entitlement,” says Baker. The Palace has acknowledged that the “Andrew problem” needs to be resolved, with a senior Palace source telling the Daily mail last week: “Clearly at some point there will soon be some thought about how to support the Duke as, away from the public eye, he seeks to slowly rebuild his life in a different direction.”
It remains to be seen how that will play out – it has been suggested that a move to Scotland could be considered. “Clearly he feels frustrated because he keeps trying to come back,” says Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace. “If you were raised as a blood prince, that’s the only career you knew.”
Soon the problem will fall on Charles, and with his desire for a lean monarchy, we all know which way it might go. “Charles and William have a vested interest in keeping the business on the road,” says Cawthorne. “Andrew is the royal apple maggot, and he could ruin everything for everyone.”
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