The Queen is distancing herself from her son Prince Andrew ahead of his upcoming abuse trial. Quite late, some say; “Resolute” the others – like the British royal expert Anna Whitelock. It was announced on Wednesday that Prince Andrew and his lawyers have failed in an attempt to stop the charges against him. The 61-year-old is now facing a civil trial in the United States. Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement on Thursday.
For t-online, Anna Whitelock, a 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 likely to face a civil trial in the United States in fall 2022. Virginia Giuffre, née Roberts, accuses him of raping her as part of the abuse ring of the late US businessman Jeffrey Epstein and his recently convicted henchman Ghislaine Maxwell in the late 1990s. She was 17 years old then. Andrew has 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 attorney David Boies. (Source: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
“An unprecedented scandal”
The allegations came up in 2015, again in 2019. In 2020, Andrew wanted to cleanse himself with an ultimately fateful interview. The opposite happened and the Queen announced that he would no longer represent the royal family. So this Thursday, another step away from Andrew and a clear positioning. For example, he is stripped of all military titles, including being addressed as “His Royal Highness”. In the future he will appear as a private person. That was to be expected, Whitelock explains: “With all the implication 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 stresses: “The Queen as 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 monarchy’s prestige is in jeopardy.”
Whitelock believes the 95-year-old Queen “acted decisively”: “Similarly swift and ruthless action was taken on the ‘Megxit’, when a terse statement made the Queen’s position clear: Harry and Meghan would have to play their official roles quit as working royals if they couldn’t commit full-time to the company.” Unlike Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, Prince Andrew does not have the choice to decide for or against something. The desired withdrawal from the royal ranks cannot be compared to being involved in an abuse scandal. In Prince Andrew’s case, it is therefore immediately clear that, among other things, he will continue to take on no official duties.
But why did this statement come only now? The expert has an answer: “Buckingham Palace was probably hoping 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 picture from 2001: Prince Andrew has 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 issued an open letter expressing concerns that Andrew, who served in the Royal Navy from 1979 to 2001, could remain associated with them – despite failing to meet the highest military standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct. They asked the Queen to strip him of his military titles.
“The Royal Family is always trying to distance itself from Andrew”
The fact that she only did this now does not call into question the credibility of the Queen, nor does her reputation suffer as a result, Whitelock believes. “So far it is 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,” said Whitelock. British royal family at the “Trooping the Color” parade 2018: 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 statement, blunt and unequivocal.” The statement from Buckingham Palace said simply: “With the approval and consent of the Queen, the Duke of York’s military ranks and royal patronage have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue to hold no public office and is stepping in in this case as a private individual.” Not more.
So everything seems to have been said about this matter for the time being, the Royal Family’s Twitter profile is showing photos of other royal commitments again.
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