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Andrew was going to throw a lavish party to celebrate reaching a milestone year, but three months before the event, the Queen cancelled it. The Sunday Times claimed that the monarch made the decision following the release of Andrew’s BBC Newsnight interview about his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The news followed Andrew’s announcement that he was to step down from his royal duties over his association with the disgraced financier.
Andrew instead decided to host a “small family dinner”, although reports claimed the few guests invited shunned the event.
The Daily Mail said several claimed they were “unavailable” to attend the dinner at Royal Lodge, where the Duke of York lives.
His ex-wife Sarah Ferguson subsequently sent out last minute invitations to increase the numbers.
The Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare wrote in February: “Nothing quite illustrates the Duke of York’s dizzying fall from grace than the manner in which a number of his friends — or those he thought of as friends — have shunned the chance to join him tomorrow on his 60th birthday.”
This was not the first time the Queen has called for Andrew to scale back his birthday.
Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer on February 4, in 1981, in a move that was expected to excite the nation.
In the weeks leading up to the engagement announcement on February 24, Andrew was advised not to appear in public — even though his 21st birthday took place on February 19.
Writing in his 2020 biography, ‘Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace’ Nigel Cawthorne said “there were no photos of Andrew that month”, as he was not supposed to “upstage the heir to the throne”.
Up until Charles’ engagement to Diana, Andrew had been competing with his older brother in terms of popularity for years — and winning.
He was often seen as the most attractive royal and had a loyal following of besotted fans.
For instance when Andrew went to Vancouver as a youth, one member of the public said he was “a real prince charming”, while others said he was “even better than Prince Charles”.
Indeed, the public were wary of prioritising the first-in-line to the throne over the second — after all both George VI and George V had been the second sons, but the crown had fallen to them.
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Yet, when it was clear the throne’s future was going to be secured with Charles and his future bride, Andrew had to take a backseat.
Mr Cawthorne explained: “It was also cruel, the way life at court can be, as Charles’ marriage marked the beginning of the end of Andrew’s position in the palace hierarchy.
“In February he was literally sidelined by the marriage, despite his parents’ concerted efforts on behalf of their second son.”
Mr Cawthorne pointed out that Andrew’s 60th birthday was cancelled by the Queen due to “The Firm’s image” too.
The biographer concluded: “After forty years, the prince was as insignificant as he was as a 21-year-old.”
Andrew had a belated 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle instead, that was tied in with Philip’s 60th birthday — June 10.
For his actual birthday, Andrew had received no attention other than a dinner with the Queen and Philip.
‘Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace’ was written by Nigel Cawthorne in 2020 and has been published by Gibson Square. It is available here.
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