After a difficult year, the last thing Britains royal family needed was the Duke of Yorks self-inflicted crisis
The unprecedented banishment of Prince Andrew to the outer contacts of the imperial firm, without a useful future capacity or official bookings, free- apparently- to spend more time with his golf clubs, comes at a crucial time for the family.
After the tragedies of the 1990 s and the patient rebuilding of reputation that followed, all seemed set fair merely 18 months back. The Queen was still soldiering stoically on into her 90 s, working on her red boxes of official papers every day as she had done for the previous seven decades and attending 293 bookings during the year. Prince Harry had just married Meghan Markle to favourite acclaim, apparently starting a new period for the royal family. And the sequence was assure to three generations, if they played their placards right.
How easily destabilising hesitations can pry. From the Duke of Edinburgh’s car crash in January, through to Harry and Meghan’s evident unhappiness with their imperial persona and their fissure with Prince William and Duchess Kate, the great hopes of the royal family, it has been a difficult year, if not yet another annus horribilis like 1992. On top of that came Andrew’s self-inflicted crisis, which has angered other members of the family, especially Prince Charles, reopening age-old abscess and hurling the smooth running of the institution into chaos.
Andrew’s fall from grace has had a slow motion inevitability. His relationship with the imprisoned babe sexuality crook Jeffrey Epstein had been known since the pair were envisioned strolling together in Central Park in 2011, but was ignored, especially once a Florida judge ruled that the allegations involving the prince were unnecessary to know. But following the latest complaints about Epstein and his suicide in prison in August, Andrew’s association with him was bound to float into view once more, even though no criminal accusations have been laid against him and he disclaims any personal wrongdoing.
His ill-judged television interview last weekend triggered his tumble, spotlighting as it did well documented mistakes: his gumption of entitlement, freeloading, obtuseness and insensitivity. The British public can bear a lot from its royal family but resent extravagance and arrogance, specially over the expenditure of money and particularly from someone whose dedication to the common good has been sometimes hard to detect.