Voices: So farewell, then, your not-so-royal highness

·3 min read
The House of Windsor can move fast when it wants (Getty)
The House of Windsor can move fast when it wants (Getty)

Goodness, the House of Windsor really can be ruthless when it wants to be. Or has to be, more like. Life comes fast at you when you live in comfortable seclusion in a variety of royal palaces. That princely platinum pudding Prince Andrew is learning all about that the hard way…

On Wednesday, the Duke of York gets notice that he faces a civil sex assault case in New York. On Thursday he’s told to hand back his remaining patronages, honorific military titles, collection of fancy uniforms (tailored for the more portly figure) – even the title of “his royal highness” won’t be “used” any more. And him a prince-of-the-blood royal, indeed. They didn’t even do that to Edward VIII when he abdicated back in 1936. Quite a day.

Dramatic as the developments are, though, it’s all been coming for some time. The regiments and the public have had enough of him. Sorry, ma’am.

Somehow, despite sentiment, motherly love and vestigial familial loyalty, the Queen and the Prince of Wales have determined that the interests of the institution must come first. Nothing else matters. Like a rotten branch, he’s been lopped off. He won’t be missed.

The Queen and Prince Charles have (basically, if reluctantly) conceded that Prince Andrew has little chance of getting through this case without further grave damage to the monarchy, even if he eventually won the lawsuit.

If, as the announcement suggests, he is going to fight on, then he has to be removed from the scene, the wounds cauterised and basically pushed to the very edges of the royal scene. Like his former wife, Fergie, he’s no longer an HRH – and he’s not going to be seen much in public, to embarrass them and appal the public. He might as well hide in an industrial fridge.

As a passing thought, it does make you wonder if the royal family might now have a think about initiating some rapprochement with Harry and Meghan, who received harsher treatment than Prince Andrew – and with less cause.

The presence of his no-longer-royal highness Prince Andrew during the Platinum Jubilee was pretty much unthinkable. The palace must already be heartily sick of seeing “that photo” of him with his arm around Virginia Giuffre on the front pages of the papers and the news bulletins and websites (though Andrew questions the veracity of the image).

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Without being indelicate, there will also be a state funeral and a coronation too, in the coming years, and it wouldn’t be quite right for this friend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell to be an integral feature of the pageantry.

The Windsors are a family, and human, and all the rest, but they are a deeply political group, and they know what matters. They have to reflect public opinion, move with the times and adapt, generally. It is how they have survived. No one, not even the sovereign, is indispensable when the future of the dynasty is at stake.

Meanwhile, Prince Andrew is of an age where he can happily spend more time on the golf course, with his wife, daughters and grandchildren, and – you never know – at the Pizza Express in Woking.

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