ROBERT HARDMAN: surrender will save the queen's platinum jubilee and send Prince Andrew into permanent exile

ROBERT HARDMAN: surrender will save the queen’s platinum jubilee and send Prince Andrew into permanent exile

As the latest anniversary reached its climax – huge crowds gathered around Buckingham Palace to see the Queen on her balcony at the end of a long weekend of festivities – everyone enjoyed the happy scene.

Well, almost everything. The Duke of York was outraged that access to the balcony was closed to everyone except the Queen, the Prince of Wales, his sons and the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge (Prince Philip was in the hospital).

The Duke made his views very clear, confronting the Queen’s officials and claiming that it was an insult to himself and his daughters, but to no avail.

The platinum jubilee will come, Prince Andrew will not just be kicked out of the balcony.  It is doubtful whether they will even let him inside the M25.

The platinum jubilee will come, Prince Andrew will not just be kicked out of the balcony. It is doubtful whether they will even let him inside the M25.

Neither the Princess Royal nor the Earl of Wessex nor other members of the family were also included.

The optics were very clear. This was not a family party, but a clear statement of the importance of a straight line of succession. The Duke, however, refused to see it that way.

The Platinum Jubilee will come, it won’t just be kicked off the balcony. It is doubtful whether he will even be allowed inside the M25 due to the terrible shadow he has cast over this summer’s celebrations due to his disastrous attachment to the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at their townhouse in London, 2001.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at their townhouse in London, 2001.

While anything in this tawdry affair is good news for the Queen, this is the first event in months that isn't bad news.

While anything in this tawdry affair is good news for the Queen, this is the first event in months that isn’t bad news.

Nevertheless, today’s out-of-court settlement, at least to some extent, clarifies the atmosphere around the hero of the day, if not around the duke himself. This is the least-worst case scenario.

While anything in this tawdry affair is good news for the Queen, this is the first event in months that isn’t bad news.

Broader questions about the Duke’s ties to Epstein and more specific questions about his relationship with Virginia Roberts, who now goes by the married name of Giuffre, will not go away.

There will be no question of who will finance the Duke’s very substantial payment to Miss Roberts.

Prince Andrew is pictured driving at Windsor last November 6 as he faced a potential trial.

Prince Andrew is pictured driving at Windsor last November 6 as he faced a potential trial.

Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, is pictured in Perth, Australia last week, Feb. 8.

Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, is pictured in Perth, Australia last week, Feb. 8.

Or, indeed, about how he proposes to “support” victims of sex trafficking, as the court’s statement suggests.

The Duke now remains indelibly tainted by association, and it is very difficult to see a way back to any public role from here. However, it could have been much worse for the monarchy.

Aside from the prospect of a brutal trial looming over this summer’s anniversary celebrations, there should have been a ruthless drip-drip and counterclaim between now and then.

Today, Andrew's mother, the Queen, held virtual audiences from Windsor Castle with the Estonian and Spanish ambassadors.

Today, Andrew’s mother, the Queen, held virtual audiences from Windsor Castle with the Estonian and Spanish ambassadors.

The rules governing pre-trial procedures in the UK would be immaterial. A whole story about the veracity and whereabouts of the infamous photograph at the heart of this case has made headlines over the past few days. We could expect more of the same on a weekly basis for several months.

As such, the Queen and the rest of her family will be relieved that this will most likely not happen, although they will remember that nothing related to Epstein seems to be left decided for long, short of his passing.

In the last few months, the royal family has had to endure the harrowing details of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, followed by the collapse of the duke’s attempt to get Roberts’ case dismissed by a New York judge who had neither.

A joint statement released today by Virginia Giuffre's attorney David Boyce and Prince Andrew's attorney Andrew Brettler.

A joint statement released today by Virginia Giuffre’s attorney David Boyce and Prince Andrew’s attorney Andrew Brettler.

You can almost imagine the senior aides drawing lots in the Queen’s private office to decide whose turn it is to deliver a handful of terrible news from America to our poor monarch. Well, at least until it’s no longer needed. More sinister stories will no doubt continue to emerge, but the monarchy is accustomed to dealing with nasty headlines and toxic media reports.

What makes him extremely nervous is anything that has a court order. That this threat has now receded indicates very strong pressure from the family and the institution to come to this decision.

The Duke has recently made it clear through intermediaries that he is looking forward to “justifying his name” in court. This, of course, is what the respondents are expected to say.

However, the slightest possibility of this was anathema to the Queen and her officials, as well as to the Prince of Wales, who was instrumental in supporting his mother in this matter.

They all remember well what happened the last time the Duke tried to “clear his name” with that New Die interview, a catalog of blunders on every possible level.

If the duke and his councilors thought it was a good idea, then God forbid he spend his day in court. Amid the aftermath of a 2019 Newsnight interview, the Duke announced he was “stepping back” from public duties, only to start making plans – within hours – to attend an engagement in the Middle East.

Letter addressed to U.S. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who oversaw the case, from David Boyce, attorney for Virginia Giuffre.

Letter addressed to U.S. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who oversaw the case, from David Boyce, attorney for Virginia Giuffre.

It was the Prince of Wales who intervened decisively to crush any attempt at retreat. And since then, he has been helping the queen to keep the defense.

The Duke of Cambridge, as you know, fully supports his father in this matter as well.

Another key player will be the new Lord Chamberlain, Lord Parker of Minsmere.

Formerly Sir Andrew Parker, he was Director General of MI5 during the premierships of Cameron, May and Johnson and joined the palace last year.

The Lord Chamberlain, the highest-ranking figure in the royal court, who is often compared to a non-executive chairman, should be the link between the monarch, the family and the royal court when it comes to particularly sensitive matters.

He will no doubt find invaluable in recent months his training of the former security service in secret coercion techniques.

Understandably, it was extremely difficult and painful for the monarch to send his second son to Tsarist Siberia, where he must now reside indefinitely.

However, seventy years on the throne left the queen with nothing but complacency.

In the early stages of the Epstein fiasco, she was content that the Duke and his public role were essentially mothballed on the grounds that nothing had been proven and there was no basis for an answer other than a catastrophic lack of judgment.

However, the Queen realized that this position could not be sustained as the Duke was pulled deeper and deeper into Epstein’s quagmire, still giving the impression – rightly or wrongly – of somehow hiding behind the royal shield.

He was no longer just a disgrace to the monarchy, but an anchor for red tape.

This was to change, firstly, in the release of him from honorary positions, and secondly, in the termination of this court case.

Undoubtedly, the saddest moment for the queen was the decision that it was time for the duke to become a colonel of the grenadier guards. It was her decision to appoint him following the Duke of Edinburgh’s retirement from public life in 2017.

It was a huge honor for Andrew, given that it was the very first public appointment she received shortly before her sixteenth birthday.

That this appointment be “returned to the Queen” would hurt her as much as it hurt the Duke himself. However, a roar was clearly heard in the ranks.

Also, this was another issue looming over the Platinum Jubilee with endless speculation about who would represent the Grenadier Guards at the special Jubilee Banner Gathering in June.

For now, the Duke remains a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy, a rank he received automatically on his 55th birthday in 2015.

He was due to be promoted to admiral on his 60th birthday in 2020, though that was completely unthinkable after the Newsnight saga.

The wording of the official statement at the time presented this as his own decision: “The Duke of York has requested the Ministry of Defense to delay this promotion until the time when His Royal Highness returns to public service.”

This is the only present he won’t receive as he turns 62 this Saturday. But he can get a piece of the pie from the queen in the castle. “He is still her son and she still loves him very much,” the source says.

However, it is safe to say that this “delay” is now indefinite.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.