He was a dashing helicopter pilot and war hero, who captivated millions of Britons during the Falkland Islands War. Royal watchers liked to say he was a favorite of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
These days, however, Prince Andrew, 61, is sparking worldwide infamy and revulsion following accusations he raped a teenage girl in 2001.
The prince has repeatedly denied the charges. But this week, her once-shiny royal life was irretrievably shattered after a federal judge in Manhattan ruled a civil case related to the sex abuse charges could proceed.
Buckingham Palace’s reaction was swift and punitive. Just a day later, the prince’s 95-year-old mother stripped him of his military titles and royal patronages. Going forward, the prince will no longer use the title “His Royal Highness”, a symbol of his status as a senior member of the royal family. The Sun, a popular British tabloid, summed up the situation: Prince Andrew had been “effectively banished”.
The prince’s friendship with former financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who accuser Virginia Giuffre claims trafficked her to the prince, hangs over the case. Mr. Epstein committed suicide in prison in 2019.
The case has deeply shaken the royal family, already shaken by the scandal and the resentful departure of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. The timing could hardly be worse: Queen Elizabeth is set to celebrate her 70th anniversary on the throne this year, and the monarchy – the symbol and unifier of an often restless nation – has sought to regild and renew its mark for future generations.
Raising questions about class, rights and toxic masculinity, the accusations against Prince Andrew have also laid bare the changing face of Britain in the #MeToo era.
And while the monarchy has survived previous crises – war, abdications, revolutions, murderous kings – the latest has also underscored how a resilient and venerable institution can still be battered by the bad behavior and judgment of its royal members.
Who is Prince Andrew?
Born on February 19, 1960, Prince Andrew attended Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland, his father’s alma mater. He seems to have inherited his father’s adventurous bent and is pursuing a brilliant military career.
A reserve, rather than heir, to the throne, his busy celibacy — linked to actresses and models, among others — was tabloid fodder, earning him the nickname “Randy Andy” and a reputation as a playboy prince. .
When he married Sarah Ferguson in 1986 he became Duke of York. The marriage ended in divorce a decade later amid accusations of infidelity. But the couple, who had two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, remained close. They continue to share a home at Royal Lodge, a residence near Windsor Castle.
While as a young man Prince Andrew was known as a rake, he gained respect after training as a naval officer and serving as a helicopter pilot during the Falkland Islands War. His appetite for risk was evident in 2012 when, to raise money for charity, he abseiled down the side of the Shard, an iconic London skyscraper, from the 87th floor.
Before being caught up in the scandal, Prince Andrew’s royal duties included serving as a trade representative for Britain, a role that brought him into the orbit of the super-rich. He was a patron of dozens of charities and held eight British military titles.
Royal watchers had seen him as the Queen’s favourite, perhaps because of a goofy personality and substantial military background that echoes his father.
Why is Prince Andrew in trouble?
Prince Andrew’s woes are largely the result of his association with Mr Epstein, who was in federal sex trafficking custody when he died, and Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently convicted of conspiring with Mr Epstein to recruit, treat and abuse minors. girls. The charges against Prince Andrew surfaced in 2015 during a federal trial against Mr Epstein in Florida. An accuser, Ms Giuffre, claimed the prince raped her when she was 17.
After a disastrous BBC interview, aired in November 2019, in which he tried to explain his friendship with Mr Epstein – and provoked a backlash after he called the convicted sex offender’s behavior “unseemly” – the prince announced that he was stepping away from public life indefinitely. In the interview, the prince said he had “no recollection” of meeting Ms Giuffre.
Understanding the allegations against Prince Andrew
But he couldn’t explain a widely published photograph taken in London that showed him with his arm around the girl’s waist. He told the BBC he had no recollection of the photograph “ever being taken”. He also made several outlandish statements to deflect his accuser’s accusations, among which he was medically unable to sweat. Ms Giuffre claimed the prince was sweating profusely during one of their encounters.
In August 2021, Ms Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew in Manhattan federal court, reiterating her charges. His lawyers tried to have the case dismissed, but on January 12 a judge cleared the case.
How did the queen react?
Following this week’s ruling in the sex abuse trial, Buckingham Palace announced that the prince would relinquish his military titles and royal charities. In a scathing rebuke, the palace also said the prince would no longer use the title ‘His Royal Highness’. The terse statement from the Palace said Andrew would ‘continue not to undertake any public duties’ and that he was ‘advocating this matter as a private citizen’.
The language of the palace announcement seemed carefully calibrated to ward off any effort by the prince to rehabilitate himself.
The decision to strip Andrew of his military titles and the honorary title ‘His Royal Highness’ puts him on the same footing as his nephew Prince Harry, who was forced to give up both after he and his wife stepped down from their royal duties and moved south. California in 2020.
What does this mean for the royal family?
Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 70th birthday on the throne in February, which was meant to provide an opportunity to reframe the royal narrative after three years of unrelenting turmoil. But now, the grim picture of a sexual abuse trial unfolding in a Manhattan courtroom could cast a shadow over his celebrations. There are also deeper and more lasting risks to the monarchy as it seeks to remain relevant in the age of TikTok.
The Queen remains beloved by the British public for her work ethic and long service record; she was served by 14 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, and overtook Queen Victoria as the longest-serving monarch in British history. But members of the younger generation have come of age during a period when the monarchy has been rocked by scandal, and the accusations against Prince Andrew are helping to reinforce that perception.
As things stand, in multicultural Britain and beyond, some have already felt alienated from the monarchy after Meghan and Harry left. The feeling of being an anachronistic family out of touch with contemporary mores was reinforced during an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Meghan, a biracial former actress, raised the issue of racism within the royal family.
Andrew’s relegation to the royal desert will also reinforce the royal role model of Prince Charles, who will succeed his mother after her death and who advocates a streamlined House of Windsor.
What are the next steps in the case against Prince Andrew?
If both sides agree to a settlement, which would end the civil trial, Prince Andrew would likely not have to admit liability or wrongdoing, but he could face significant financial costs. Under a scheduling order agreed in the trial, lawyers for Ms Giuffre and Andrew must complete legal discovery – exchanging documents and taking expert depositions – by July 14. If the case goes to trial in front of a jury, it could lead to the public release of sordid and damaging details about the prince that could further undermine the monarchy.