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  • Rachel Burchfield

Unpacking the Andrew scandal

Andrew, the third child of the Queen and Prince Philip and at one point second in line to the throne, is embroiled in a mess so, well, messy that it makes any previous Royal scandal seem tame.

I have even heard some say that this could be the downfall of the monarchy, and, once the Queen dies, anti-Royalists could point to this scandal as why the Crown should no longer exist.

Andrew, in an unprecedented move for modern Royals, has completely stepped back from Royal duties for the foreseeable future, including stepping down as patron of over 200 organizations. Prior to this melee, Andrew, better known as the Duke of York, was one of the hardest-working Royals. Now, you’ll rarely, if ever, see him. Tonight, actually, the Family is hosting President Donald Trump – Andrew won’t be there. Andrew’s planned sixtieth birthday party in early 2020 has been cancelled. And Andrew’s eldest daughter, Beatrice – who recently got engaged – will likely not even have her wedding on U.K. soil as her younger sister Eugenie did last year, opting instead to get married in Italy, the home country of her fiancé. The Queen and Charles are reportedly furious, and William, I’ve read, was on the Royal leadership team that made the decision for Andrew to step down from his duties after his interview on the BBC was received so poorly.

This is a very serious scandal and should be treated as such. But, for those that aren’t in the loop, what exactly happened?

Andrew was a friend of now disgraced (and deceased) financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of trafficking girls as young as 14 for sex. In August, depending on who you ask, Epstein committed suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial. (Some are convinced he was murdered to cover up other men who participated in the sex trafficking ring.) Andrew’s name started to be floated around with Epstein around this time, which made sense, as the two had been friends since 1991. But then, more serious allegations – Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, claims that she was forced to have sex with the prince three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York City, and on Epstein’s private Caribbean island. She was only 17 when the alleged rapes began.

Andrew vehemently denies the charge by Giuffre.

On November 14, Andrew sat down for an interview with BBC’s Newsnight. He, for his part, apparently thought the interview went well and was actually planning a second interview. But, after the interview aired on November 16, the public outcry was so fierce that, by November 20, Andrew had essentially resigned as a Royal. He was seen on November 22 riding horses with his 93-year-old mother – to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

While Buckingham Palace asserted that it was Andrew’s choice to step down, sources say there’s no way that was the case. Apparently Andrew was so far removed from reality that he truly thought the interview went well and it was the Queen who forced his hand, after speaking with heirs to the throne Charles and William.

According to a Vanity Fair source, “Everything is up in the air at the moment. Right now, Andrew is trying to come to terms with what has happened. He genuinely thought he would do the Newsnight interview, clear his name, and be able to move on. He never expected that this would lead to him resigning from Royal life. He was shocked that the meeting with the Queen did not go his way. Essentially he was told to step down.”

So, what does this all mean? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. This is certainly the biggest Royal scandal since Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, and, quite frankly, that was a big deal at the time, but it wasn’t a crime. This is a senior member of the Royal Family being accused of three counts of rape. Andrew’s career as a Royal, at least for as long as my eye can see, is finished. This, of course, has an impact on the rest of the Family, as many are calling for this to be the last straw for the monarchy and for it to be abolished. Were it not for the immense popularity of William and Kate (not so much Harry and Meghan at the moment, post-documentary), I feel as though even more would be protesting the Crown’s continuation. Speaking of Harry and Meghan, I bet they are damn glad to be on holiday for the rest of 2019 (they announced those plans long before the ill-fated BBC interview) and away from Christmas at Sandringham, which will likely be unbearably tense. I’ve even heard the Queen might have to cancel Sandringham to stay in London and deal with the fallout.

If Andrew did the crimes he is accused of, he should be punished to the full extent of the law. What affect this will have on the rest of the Family remains to be seen, but there is no precedent for a Royal disgrace, outrage, and humiliation like this – at least not in modern times – so, as we all are, I suspect the Queen is figuring out what to do day by day, hanging on by a thread and hoping the institution she has devoted her entire life to isn’t falling apart at the seams.

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