Although the British royal family is more popular now than in decades, they have been unable to escape control and scandal. Since Duchess Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been at the centre of attention in recent years, royal fans fled when Prince Andrew – the beloved son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philippe – became involved in a scandal.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, was in the midst of the voluptuous life of the late financier and sex offender Jeffery Epstein. The men were good friends for 20 years. Royal fans were appalled that the prince maintained the friendship even after Epstein was convicted in 2008 for asking a minor for sex.
When the New York businessman hung himself in captivity in the summer of 2019, questions about his friendship with Prince Andrew surfaced again.
Prince Andrew has been stripped of his royal duties
Although he still has his title, after his fateful interview with BBC Newsnight and accusations by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, that she was forced to have sex with the Duke when she was just 17, Prince Andrew has effectively been removed.
“It has become clear to me in recent days that the circumstances surrounding my former association with Jeffrey Epstein have become a major disruption to my family’s work and valuable work in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” he said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve asked Her Majesty to allow me to step back from public duties in the near future, and she’s given her consent.”
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Today we look back to Christmas 2018, and The Duchess of Sussex's visit to Brinsworth House, a residential and nursing care home in Twickenham, owned and run by the Royal Variety Charity. Each year, the UK’s much beloved Royal Variety performance is held in aid of the Royal Variety Charity of which Her Majesty The Queen is Patron. Funds raised from the show and throughout the year, help entertainers from around the UK who need support and assistance as a result of old age, ill-health, or hard times. At Brinsworth House, The Duchess joined residents singing carols and making Christmas decorations, as she unveiled a traditional 'Royal plaque' which is proudly displayed on the entrance hall wall, not far from one marking the 1976 visit of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Last Christmas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended their first joint Royal Variety performance at the iconic London Palladium. Since HRH’s visit, the Royal Variety Charity has completely refurbished Brinsworth House’s kitchen and dining room, enabling residents to feel even more at home, in their new home. #RoyalVarietyPerformance @royalvarietyperformance Photo © PA
The remaining senior members of the British royal family will have more responsibilities
With Prince Andrew out, Prince Charles, Prince William, Duchess Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Duchess Meghan Markle will be working overtime. After all, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles don’t want to replace the Duke of York in what is already a rather bloated royal family.
“You could see that William, Kate, Harry and Meghan are involved in this.” Daily Mirror’s royal editor Russell Myers explained on Pod Save the Queen. “They’ll be stuck with a lot more work, you’d think. Andrew was a patron of 230 charities, it’s a lot.”
Prince Andrew’s downfall could help Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Although they certainly aren’t looking to add more to their plate as they restore their approach to royal life, the death of Prince Andrew may have helped the Sussexes. In fact, with the Duke of York out of the way, Markle and Prince Harry may get more freedom.
“I think that with a member of the Royal Family effectively in early retirement, if Harry and Meghan don’t want them to be part of the whole circus, there’s almost a path for them now,” said Prince Charles’ biographer Robert Jobson here podcast. “If they said to Charles when he was king, ‘Look, we don’t really see ourselves in roles like this, we wanted a different kind of role,’ I think he’d be flexible about that. There’s no pressure for them now. Regarding the definition of who they are and what they want to be if they want to spend half of their time in America or somewhere else, I don’t see that as a problem.
When Prince Charles takes the throne, he pays attention to caring for the Cambridge family so that the Sussexes can focus on their passions – including an international charity. “This is a mission Meghan has been on for a long time,” an insider told the Daily Telegraph. “Even in her younger years in Hollywood, she wanted to work to create an international charity that changes lives. Now that she has the platform and profile of a British queen, she can really build this plan.”