I’ve really begun to look forward to Omid Scobie’s weekly Yahoo UK column. One of the things I appreciate is that Scobie isn’t just focusing on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the two people who are the most interesting and gossip-worthy within Salt Island. No, Scobie uses his column to talk about all kinds of things, like how the Jubbly was kind of dull, how the Queen really doesn’t have the best people around her, how the Windsors’ royal tours have gotten incredibly offensive.
Scobie’s column this week is all about Prince Andrew and his confusion over the mixed signals he’s gotten from his family as he attempts to launch yet another comeback. Andrew refuses to accept that he was stripped of his HRH, his royal patronages and his military honors. Andrew refuses to accept that no one wants a human-trafficking rapist degenerate waddling around at royal events. Andrew refuses to accept that he can’t simply manipulate his mother into giving him what he wants and that being the end of it. Andrew tried to launch his comeback on Garter Day on Monday, only to be told at the last minute that he was not welcome (to the public-facing part). Scobie has more about what happened behind-the-scenes.
Andrew had been laying the foundations for his comeback: Behind the scenes, he and his team had already been laying the foundations. By Sunday, not only had certain media outlets been briefed, but his ostentatious velvet Garter Knight robe and plume-adorned hat was out of storage and prepped for wear in his role as a member of the Order of the Garter. Even the palace appeared to be on board, with royal aides telling the Sunday Times in London that the establishment is beginning to “support him as he begins to rebuild his life”.
The Queen approved: Most importantly, as a source close to the family told me last week, his mother had given his attendance the nod. Despite being forced to withdraw from duties two years ago, the Queen—who many have said carries a huge soft spot for her son—has long wanted Andrew to find ways to remain connected with royal life. His position as a Garter Knight was the only role not taken away in January. But not everyone knew what was on the cards. When myself and another publication, Newsweek, reported the news that Andrew had solidified his plans to be front and centre at Windsor Castle on 13 June, I received a text from a dismayed palace source. “I will be very surprised if [William and Charles] let this happen,” they said.
William & Charles fought back: Realising the potential catastrophe, it didn’t take long for Prince William and Prince Charles to step in. For the Duke of Cambridge it was, as the Evening Standard first reported, a “him or me” situation. “If York insisted on taking part publicly, he would withdraw,” said a senior aide of William’s ultimatum. And sources say Charles was concerned that Andrew’s presence would not only anger the public but also take away from his wife Camilla’s installation as a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter. By Sunday afternoon, Andrew had been delivered the news (signed off by Her Majesty, who the two heirs had consulted during their intervention): he would now only be allowed to take part in the private moments of the day.
Andrew was crushed: Andrew, says a source, was “crushed… [and] a little confused”. I’m told that earlier in the week, the duke was under the impression that the blessing had been given for him to join his family members in the ceremony.
His confusion is understandable. To say there has been a reluctance to completely remove Prince Andrew from all aspects of royal life is an understatement. Though stripped of his titles, and under strict instructions not to use his HRH, the Duke of York still enjoys a greater wealth of royal privileges than other former working family members ever have. (Case in point: Prince Harry, who only left his role after a proposal for a part-time position was rejected, remains in a legal battle with the British Home Office to use his own money to pay for relevant security when in the UK. Andrew, on the other hand, continues to receive round-the-clock protection for the princely sum of zero, thanks to tax-payers picking up the seven-figure tab).
Senior royals believe his innocence: Though he still denies having met Giuffre (and senior royal family members also believe his innocence), Andrew’s choice to avoid trial and answer serious questions thanks to loans from the Queen and Prince Charles is very much fresh in the minds of the public. As is his continued lack of accountability for questionable friendships with a billionaire paedophile and monstrous sex trafficker. Or his many money-related scandals.
Andrew is damaging the monarchy: By constantly being given room to inch his way back into the public eye, it not only makes a mockery of his supposed retirement but also reflects terribly on the family that palace aides just recently revealed want to help him rebuild his life. As ninth-in-line to the throne, the Sovereign’s third child, and son of the head of the Church of England, every chance Prince Andrew is given to try and rehabilitate his image is a step closer to further damage and shame for the institution of the monarchy. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. I’m just not sure how many at the palace see it that way.
I agree with Scobie that there are a lot of people within the palace who are totally fine with Andrew’s comeback, they just don’t want to be seen supporting him publicly. The biggest problem, the problem which people talk around, is that none of these stalled comebacks would be possible without the Queen’s constant blessings. She is the one telling him it’s fine, he can come to Garter Day, he can come to his father’s memorial service, he can come to the Jubbly, he can launch a comeback and it’s all fine with her. That is the problem, the fact that the Queen has such a blind spot about Andrew (and she always has) and the fact that William and Charles basically have to drop everything and run interference whenever Andrew has talked her into one of his schemes. Now, at this point, I do think what Andrew is doing to his mother is flat-out manipulation. He’s manipulating a 96-year-old woman for his own ends. But then again, she was always ride-or-die for him.
Anyway, I say that Andrew should come back! Let him wear all of the velvet robes and plumage and let him attend all of the royal events. That’s what this family represents: human trafficking, fraud, financial crimes, rape, etc. Andrew shouldn’t be hidden away, he should be front and center, to remind everyone how awful this family is.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar.