This pitches at the top of the state across the Channel. However, it was still difficult at the start of the week for political analysts to know whether the Prime Minister or Prince Andrew would fall first. For Boris Johnson as for the favorite son of the Queen of England, the agony may be long but it seems terminal. But royalty, or “the firm” as the institution is also known to its subjects, sometimes proves to be faster and more efficient in making decisive choices than the country’s democratic institutions. And if the conservative party has not yet decided the fate of Boris Johnson, the monarchy seems to have decided the case of Prince Andrew.
The day after the rejection by the American courts to dismiss the case incriminating Prince Andrew, and the very day that Boris Johnson was gambling on his survival in the House of Commons during a particularly grotesque session of questions to the Prime Minister, a press release from the Palace of Buckingham announced in just two sentences the second act of the forfeiture of Prince Andrew. “With the Queen’s permission and approval, the Duke of York’s royal titles and patronages have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to hold public office and is defending himself in this matter by as a private citizen.” Sharp and sharp, like a royal guard sword blade.
In court language, and according to royal historian David McClure, author of an investigation into the wealth of the Queen of England The Queen’s True Worth : unravelling the public and private finances of Queen Elizabeth II, it also means that “the Queen will not fund Prince Andrew’s legal fees”. The sovereign does not want to play any role in this scandal which will have definitively tainted one of her children and, with him, the royal institution. The case in question is the one between him and Virginia Giuffre. The 38-year-old American accuses the prince of having sexually abused her at the age of 17, through American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, both already convicted by American justice of sex crimes and trafficking of minors. The prince’s lawyers recently asked for the charges to be dismissed for technical reasons, but the American courts rejected their request and a trial will take place, probably next fall. If the prince does not incur imprisonment since he is attacked before a civil court, he nevertheless risks having to pay very heavy damages, either following a conviction, or before a trial in the form of an arrangement. amicably. In this scandal, the prince also risks his honor. Unless he’s already lost it.
This accusation has been eating away at the image of the Queen’s youngest son for three years and seriously harming that of the monarchy. His attempted explanation in a 2019 BBC interview went down in history not only for the arrogance with which he spoke about the case but also for the incongruous details he offered in his defence: for example that he does not sweat, and that he could not have, according to the words of the American, “sweated during a frenzied dance with her.”
This disastrous interview for the prince, conducted by the excellent BBC journalist Emily Maitlis, then announces the first act of the scandal. The Prince quickly finds himself cornered by public opinion and his family, in particular his older brother and heir to the throne Prince Charles, to withdraw from his public obligations. Andrew agrees but fumes privately. He who is said to be very attached to his privileges does not support these continual bullyings which concern all the details of his life. Thus, during the preparations for the burial of their father, Prince Philip, a question of dress arises: if Harry, having left the royal family, can no longer wear the military uniform, his uncle Andrew, retired from his duties public, can he continue to parade in uniform and medals? So as not to offend anyone, the Queen and Prince Charles decide that everyone will wear a civilian and not a military costume.
But today is no longer the time for diplomacy or procrastination. Elizabeth II, the future king, Prince Charles, and her son Prince William, have decided. Or rather they sawed off the rotting branch that Andrew had rested on for decades. He understood the message well. He has just put his alpine chalet in Verbier up for sale, estimated at 19 million euros, no doubt to pay his legal fees and possible damages.
For the Monarchy, however, the scandal may not end there, especially in this year of the Diamond Jubilee which should be that of the unconditional affection of British subjects for the grandmother of the nation. David McClure, historian of English royalty, believes that “the royal family must find a way to ‘de-royalise’ Andrew” in order to limit the damage. “The palace must hope he retires far away to his royal hunting lodge and leads a hermit’s life there henceforth.”