The British royal family’s year was off to a positive start when the Duchess of Cambridge wowed the world with her stunning birthday portraits, the perfect start to 2022 — the Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee.
The photos of Kate at age 40 appeared to project her role as Britain’s future Queen Consort, the regal nature of the images presenting more mature side of the duchess as she prepares for her greatest act yet.
But the glow quickly faded as two other royals catapulted back onto the scene despite neither representing Her Majesty Elizabeth in an official capacity.
Days after Kate’s birthday on January 9, when talk was focused solely on how the duchess was perfectly poised to one day be Princess of Wales and then Queen, Prince Andrew’s sex abuse scandal was back in the spotlight.
On January 12, a federal judge in New York denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Prince Andrew filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a woman who alleges she was sexually trafficked to the royal when she was underage.
Once again, the royal family was being linked — by association — to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a former friend of the Duke of York.
Giuffre claims the abuse took place at Epstein’s New York home, on his private Caribbean island and at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell.
Prince Andrew has denied all allegations and in 2019 told the BBC he had “no recollection of ever meeting her”.
His lawyers had moved to dismiss the civil suit but it will go to trial in the US, most likely in September unless the matter is settled out of court.
The reaction by Buckingham Palace to the judge’s decision was swift. Just one day later, a statement was issued by the palace, confirming the Duke of York had returned his military affiliations and royal patronages to Her Majesty.
The decision was reportedly led by the Queen and heir to the throne Prince Charles and Prince William. Andrew’s other siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, are also believed to have been involved in the crisis talks.
The Duke of York will no longer use the style ‘His Royal Highness’ in any official capacity.
The palace statement also confirmed Andrew would be “defending this case as a private citizen”.
9Honey’s royal commentator Victoria Arbiter said the move to strip Andrew of his royal titles would not have been one taken lightly by the Queen, as it could be seen as an admission of guilt.
Crucially, though, Arbiter said it was part of a greater pursuit to “protect the institution of monarchy”, something never more important when the UK, and the Commonwealth, prepares to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years as head of state.
“A prince by birth, he remains a member of the royal family, but though he had hoped to make a return to royal life, his royal career is effectively finished,” Arbiter said.
But the fallout did not end there, and the scandalous headlines kept coming.
This week, a new documentary aired on ITV featuring claims Prince Andrew once dated Maxwell, with a former police protection officer saying he regularly saw the disgraced socialite “coming in and out” of Buckingham Palace in the early 2000s.
“From the way she was allowed to enter and exit the palace at will, we realised and suspected that she may have had an intimate relationship with Prince Andrew,” Paul Page told Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile.
He also described Andrew’s collection of “50 or 60 stuffed toys” that sat on his bed at the palace, and a picture showing how they should be replaced after the bed was made.
“The reason for the laminated picture was that if those bears weren’t put back in the right order by the maids, he would shout and scream and become very abusive,” Page claimed.
Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend Lady Victoria Hervey told the program she was used as “bait” by Maxwell to find girls for Epstein to abuse.
“I think he just kind of sat back and sort of waited for her to sort of go fishing and go find however many girls were needed, you know, to entertain his friends,” Lady Victoria said of Epstein.
“I think I was pretty much used as bait.”
In a further blow to the duke, his social media accounts were deactivated this week.
The British royal family’s official website also began referring to the Duke of York’s role in the monarchy in a past tense.
Prince Charles became the first member of the family to be asked about the scandal in public when he was confronted by a journalist last week, but he ignored the question.
Days after, Prince William found himself in a similar situation while visiting the Foundling Museum in London with his wife when he was asked: “Do you support Prince Andrew? Have you spoken to him recently?”
Not surprisingly, William refused to comment.
It was his first public engagement of the year — he had earlier conducted an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle — and clearly wanted the focus to be on the royal family’s work and not their black sheep.
In a strange turn of events, the statement from the palace about Prince Andrew’s loss of titles was issued on January 13 — the same day the Sandringham Summit was held two years ago.
That meeting saw the Queen make key decisions regarding the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following their announcement to resign their positions as senior working royals in 2020.
A one-year trial period then took effect before Her Majesty confirmed Prince Harry and Meghan would “not be returning as working members of the royal family”.
That statement in February 2021 also announced Harry would lose his honorary military appointments and the couple’s royal patronages would be returned to the Queen.
While the situation between Prince Harry and his uncle is very different due to the individual circumstances, recent news of his security woes is causing fresh headaches for the Queen and her family.
Last week, news emerged that Harry had applied for a judicial review of a Home Office decision not to allow him to personally pay for police protection for himself and his family when they are in the UK.
The Duke of Sussex wants to visit his home country with his family, but needs to “ensure” their safety.
He says his private security team in the US does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad, or access to UK intelligence information which is needed keep his family safe. He wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill for police protection.
Harry’s legal representatives said the move followed an incident in London last July when his security was compromised after his car was chased by paparazzi as he left a charity event on June 30.
Harry’s decision to apply for a judicial review has been fiercely criticised, with Princess Diana’s former bodyguard Ken Wharf saying if successful, it would set a precedent that the Metropolitan Police are “for hire”.
In a piece for the Mail Online Wharfe said “every visiting Hollywood star and wealthy celebrity may as well expect the same privileges”.
“Britain would face the humiliating prospect of hiring out our highly-trained and armed officers to any reality television narcissist or tinpot dictator’s children who can foot the bill,” he added.
Prince Harry and Meghan are believed to be keen on returning to the UK to attend a memorial service for Prince Philip in April, and to take part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
But, as The Telegraph UK’s associate editor Camilla Tominey pointed out: “They will automatically be enveloped into the Met’s policing of this major royal event. That’s what happened when Harry returned for Prince Philip’s funeral, because it was classed as an official duty”.
She added: “It seems that Prince Harry wants the extra protection for when he and Meghan are carrying out ‘private’ events but surely, by the very nature of them being ‘private’, they neither present a significant security threat nor merit an ‘official’ police presence?”
Harry’s move to effectively launch legal action against the British government has been widely criticised, though some of the loudest voices have long had had issues with the Sussexes.
Piers Morgan said Harry and Meghan were once again “baiting the royal family”, while Harry’s biographer Angela Levin described his actions as “beyond appalling”.
“He keeps saying he loves his grandmother and admires her, but this is not the way you behave if you do,” Levin told The Sun.
Despite everything that has happened in just one month, the Queen is surely looking forward to seeing her grandson and his family — particularly baby Lilibet, her seven-month-old great-granddaughter she is yet to meet.
We can’t forget the Queen said Prince Harry and Meghan would “always be much loved members of my family” in the days after they announced they were stepping back as senior working royals to pursue a life away from the UK.
As for Prince Andrew, the Queen’s blunt statement on his situation lacks the same warmth.
One can only imagine the hurried scenes behind palace walls as courtiers, and the members of the royal family themselves, try to steer the focus back on what should be at the forefront of 2022: the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
On February 6, Her Majesty will officially become the longest-reigning British monarch, the longest-serving female head of state history and the oldest-serving sovereign in the world.
Thanks to the Queen’s trusty daughter-in-law, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, who has thrown herself into royal duties with a tour abroad and events back at home, the future of the monarchy appears to be in safe hands.
The Duchess of Cornwall, too, has been back at work and ignoring the dramas, speaking at a London event to mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of Anne Frank’s diary.
And who can look away from the latest pictures of Prince William and Kate, who cuddled a puppy during their most recent engagement?
They know the importance of optics. And what matters now is the Queen, and those who will one day take her place, are doing what the monarchy does best: getting on with the job and not complaining, working towards keeping the institution alive for another thousand years.
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