Prince Andrew: Royal expert on 'details' of Jeffrey Epstein
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Prince Andrew retired from public life at 59, after his BBC Newsnight interview caused an international sensation. The royal had decided to face the criticism over his former friendship with the late sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, head on by speaking to BBC journalist Emily Maitlis. Yet, the interview stunned royal spheres and was instantly dubbed a “car-crash”.
Just days later, Andrew announced that he would be stepping back from life on the royal frontline, while acknowledging his association with Epstein “has become a major disruption to my family’s work”.
He has rarely been seen in public since.
The Royal Family’s public tributes to him are becoming increasingly lowkey, now he is not a working member of the Firm.
The official royal social media accounts use old photographs of Andrew to honour the occasion, rather than new ones, and avoid using his HRH style or his Duke of York title.
This year the Palace also announced the latest details of Meghan and Harry’s royal departure on Andrew’s 61st birthday.
On February 19, Buckingham Palace released a statement which read: “The Duke and Duchess have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family.”
The Palace is known to run a regimented schedule in order to maximise coverage for each member of the Firm by making sure royal events do not overlap.
The Queen had already decided the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would lose their patronages days before the Palace made this announcement.
She is said to have sent an email addressed to her grandson around February 13, explaining that the two could not hold onto their patronages if they were not working royals.
On February 23, the Mail on Sunday’s Emily Andrews tweeted: “The Queen wrote Harry a personal letter 10 days (or so) ago to conclude matters.”
She added: “Her letter was sent by email, mid-week, while Harry and Meghan were recording with Oprah at their Californian home.”
Ms Andrews also claimed that the Queen’s letter was sent after Harry “pushed to get things sorted” in January.
It’s curious that the Palace then chose to make the announcement public the following week, and on the Duke of York’s birthday.
The review of the Sussexes’ royal exit — commonly known as Megxit — was initially expected to take place a year after their official departure, on March 31.
Alternatively, the Palace could have made an announcement a year after the couple declared they were going to become financially independent, last January.
But February it was.
In the announcement, the Palace acknowledged that it came earlier than initially promised.
It read: “Following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step away last year as working members of the Royal Family, a 12-month review was agreed.
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“A decision has now been made after conversations between the Duke of Sussex and members of the Royal Family.”
The statement also caused a stir, after it claimed “it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service” after leaving the Firm.
The Sussexes hit back with their own statement within minutes, claiming that “we can all live a life of service” and that service is universal” — a spat which dominated the headlines for days afterwards.
The Palace’s actions also meant Harry permanently lost his appointments with the Royal Marines, RAF Honington, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving.
He was reportedly devastated when these titles were removed from him during the first Megxit negotiations a year ago — but the appointments were not handed out to any other royals, until now.
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The couple also lost their titles as President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
This is an organisation both had worked with repeatedly over the last year, and they are thought to be particularly passionate about the Commonwealth, so this news likely came as a bitter blow.
It was therefore inevitable that the statement was going to cause a stir among royal watchers— especially as that same week, the pair announced they were expecting their second child.
There is an argument that the Palace may have accelerated the planned announcement about the Sussexes’ departure after CBS revealed the couple had agreed to an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The couple’s interview, where “nothing is off-limits”, is set to air in the US on Sunday, and on Monday at 9pm on ITV, in the UK.
However, Ms Andrews also claimed that when she sent her letter to Harry, the Queen did not know about the upcoming interview with Oprah.
She tweeted: “It had been kept a secret, so it was irrelevant to her ‘decision’ entirely consistent with last year’s Sandringham Summit.”
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