The Queen is distancing herself from her son, Prince Andrew, ahead of his upcoming abuse trial. Quite late, some say; “Resolute” others – like British royal expert Anna Whitelock.
It was announced on Wednesday that Prince Andrew and his lawyers had failed in their bid to have the charges against him dropped. The 61-year-old is now facing a civil lawsuit in the United States. Queen Elizabeth II released a statement on Thursday.
For t-online, Anna Whitelock, professor and historian specializing in the history of the British monarchy, explains what is behind it and what impact the Prince Andrew scandal has on the royal family.
Prince Andrew is expected to face a civil trial in the United States in the fall of 2022. Virginia Giuffre, née Roberts, accuses him of raping her as part of the abuse ring of the late American businessman Jeffrey Epstein and his recently convicted henchman Ghislaine Maxwell in the late 1990s. She was then 17 years old. Andrew categorically denied the serious allegations, and his lawyers also wanted to prevent the service of the lawsuit for a long time.
Virginia Giuffre with her lawyer David Boies. (Source: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
“An unprecedented scandal”
The allegations were raised in 2015, again in 2019. In 2020, Andrew wanted to cleanse himself with an ultimately fateful interview. The reverse happened and the Queen announced that he would no longer represent the Royal Family. So this Thursday another step in the distance to Andrew and clear positioning. For example, he is stripped of all military titles, including being addressed as “His Royal Highness”. In the future, it will appear as a private person. This was to be expected, says Whitelock: “With all the implications and repeated denials from Prince Andrew, this is an unprecedented scandal for the Royal Family.”
Anna Whitelock, who directs the Center for the Study of Modern Monarchy at Royal Holloway University in London, also points out: “The Queen at the head of the ‘company’ [als solche bezeichnet sich die Royal Family laut britischen Medienberichten selbst, Anm. d. Red.] can be ruthless when necessary and when the prestige of the monarchy is in danger.”
Whitelock believes the 95-year-old Queen ‘acted decisively’: ‘Similar swift and ruthless action was taken against the ‘Megxit’, when a terse statement clarified the Queen’s position: Harry and Meghan should play their official roles as working royals if they cannot commit to the business full-time.”
Unlike Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, Prince Andrew has no choice but to decide for or against something. The desired removal from the royal ranks cannot be compared to involvement in an abuse scandal. In the case of Prince Andrew, it is therefore immediately clear that, among other things, he will continue to perform no official duties.
But why does this statement come only now? The expert has an answer: “Buckingham Palace probably hoped that the case would not end up in court, but with the prospect of a trial and dirty revelations about Andrew’s alleged involvement in this pedophile ring, the queen had to act.”
A photo from 2001: Prince Andrew holds Virginia Giuffre in his arms, in the background Ghislaine Maxwell smiles at the camera. (Source: CAP/PLF Image)
Also this week, more than 150 military veterans published an open letter expressing concern that Andrew, who served in the Royal Navy from 1979 to 2001, may continue to be associated with them despite maintaining the highest military standards. standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct – not met. They asked the queen to strip him of his military titles.
“The Royal Family are still trying to distance themselves from Andrew”
The fact that she only did so now does not undermine the Queen’s credibility, nor does her reputation suffer, Whitelock believes. “So far it has been Andrew’s reputation that has been tarnished by this scandal and not that of the Royal Family, who have always sought to distance themselves from him,” Whitelock said.
British Royal Family at the 2018 ‘Trooping the Colour’ Parade: Members of the Royal Family distance themselves from Prince Andrew. (Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Referring to the Queen’s statement released on Thursday, Whitelock said: ‘It was a brief, direct and unequivocal statement. The statement from Buckingham Palace simply read: “With the Queen’s approval and consent, the military ranks and Royal Patronage of The Duke of York have been returned to The Queen. The Duke of York will continue to n hold no public office and intervene in this matter as a private individual.
So all seems to have been said about it at the moment, the royal family’s Twitter profile again showing pictures of other royal engagements.