Who’d have thought a 95-year-old woman, who’s just lost her husband of seven decades, could be so utterly ruthless? Who could know she’d stand ready to desert her favorite child? And who could imagine that she would put her business — “The Firm,” as she calls it — ahead of her nearest and dearest?
Okay, she might be the Queen, but even so her son Andrew must feel he’s been kicked hard by his own mother, right between the legs, just when he’s friendless and the whole world is denouncing him. She’s stripped off his military titles and royal patronages and instructed that he will no longer be called His Royal Highness. He’s no longer a working Royal, and a range of charities and trusts have cut their ties with him. Even his Twitter page has been deleted. Like a peacock, each of his colorful feathers are being ripped out, one by one, in full, painful, public view.
And all of this is despite the fact that he hasn’t, as yet, been found guilty of anything.
Yet Andrew has been a bloody fool, and the Queen had no choice. Assuming he’s innocent, and I don’t say that glibly, why on Earth did he maintain his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein after the latter’s imprisonment for child sex offenses? Why did he stay at Epstein’s house in New York and stroll with the guy in Central Park having a natter? And why did he carry out simply the most catastrophic crisis TV interview the world has ever seen, showing zero empathy for Epstein’s victims, and not an ounce of contrition, thereby fanning the flames of global interest in his sordid sex case?
Andrew has been a bloody fool, and the Queen had no choice.
My God, the royals can be daft. Perhaps they just buy into their own publicity, believing themselves to be special because of their own innate qualities rather than an accident of birth. Let’s be honest, the royals are incredibly run of the mill, displaying a range of human frailties and faults. As individuals, they’re not remotely special. It’s purely the institution they represent that makes them worthy of any attention.
Yet some of them fail to accept this. Edward VIII abdicated, but he still craved relevance and a meaningful role and was apparently shocked to discover that he couldn’t have either. Prince Edward came up that humiliating farce “It’s a Royal Knockout” in the mid-1980s, which was utterly godawful and an embarrassment to those celebrities who took part. And Prince Harry ran away from the whole show, set up shop in California, and schmoozed with the rich and famous while complaining about his mental health challenges, but still he expects the hard-pressed British taxpayer to fork out for his security when he returns to the U.K. Of course, it all went wrong for him as soon as he met the disruptive, sorry-for-herself Meghan Markle. Oh, dearie me.
But Andrew sits at the top of the pile for sheer, aching, crass, public stupidity. Faced with a growing media campaign to get to the bottom of what really happened between him and the then 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre 20 years ago, he ignored the excellent advice he was given to stay well away from any TV camera, chose his own PR strategy (because, of course, as a royal, he must be brilliant at PR), and merrily chatted away to the BBC’s star presenter, on the record, thereby sealing his fate as a global embarrassment.
If you haven’t seen that interview, do take a look. He does everything he shouldn’t, and nothing he should, as though he’s actively trying to create the perfect case study in how to demolish his reputation while casting as much doubt as possible on his own version of events. Incredibly, he’s reported to have thought the interview had gone well. Delusional or what.
Since then, of course, it’s gone from bad to worse. Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of child sex trafficking for Epstein, thereby posing ghastly questions for Andrew. And his every attempt to use legal niceties to stop the case against him going ahead just make him look sneaky, desperate, and guilty as hell. He might still be in the game as far as the law goes, but in the court of public opinion, and to use a soccer metaphor, he’s 5-0 down and the referee’s about to blow for full time.
Which brings us back to the Queen. I’m sure she feels about Andrew as every mother would about a son. She’s human, after all. But she must also despair at the arrogance that has led him from trouble to calamity and finally ruination. Death by a thousand cuts. Nothing will now save him. No wonder he’s “returning to private life,” a euphemism for being evidently unfit for a public role. No wonder organizations are falling over each other to disassociate themselves from him. No wonder his name causes a snigger of disgust and despair whenever it comes up.
As for the British public, they remain in love with the Queen despite it all. Her Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year will demonstrate the quite astonishing levels of respect for her up and down her realm — all the more admirable given the cynicism that Brits display towards just about every other public figure, including American presidents. When she’s gone, we’ll miss her more that we or she could possibly realize.
Andrew, of course, is unlikely to be seen much during the Jubilee, or beyond. He had a golden chance in life, almost literally born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was the handsome war hero, who returned from the Falklands 40 years ago with medals for courage and service. Thanks to his family, he’s fabulously wealthy, and his wedding was watched by hundreds of millions. Yet he’s blown it all away.
How stupid. How sad. And how very tragic for his mother at the end of her long life.
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