Prince Charles is now pulling the strings of the monarchy

21 November 2019

11:09 PM

21 November 2019

11:09 PM

Prince Andrew’s humiliation is complete. For now. Who knows what lies around the corner?

Despite Palace protestations to the contrary – and they’re hardly going to say otherwise – it’s extremely doubtful there’ll be a role for the Queen’s son at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday; at the annual Trooping the Colour; or when the royals gather on the Buckingham Palace balcony during significant state and royal occasions. And the idea he can continue his Pitch at the Palace for entrepreneurs is a fanciful one. Businesses that normally flock to the Windsor brand are fleeing this particular representative. When the statement used the words “for the foreseeable future” read “for ever”.

Andrew won’t have embraced his fallen destiny. He’ll have clung to the balustrades as he resisted. While the Queen handed him his P45, it will have been filled in by her heir, Prince Charles.

Andrew’s departure reminds us of the inevitable shift in power from Monarch to “shadow king”. After her error of judgement when she let Andrew do the interview, the palace are keen to show a decisive Queen. But it’s Prince Charles and his people who are increasingly pulling the strings. The sacking – for that is what it was – is also a reminder that the British Monarchy is a dynasty determined to survive and it doesn’t welcome debates during a General Election campaign about its merits in the 21st century.

Andrew has left the public stage – a stage he was born to occupy. We will continue to pay for his bodyguards. In private – perhaps going to church at Windsor – we will see him with the Queen. A deliberate sign of a mother supporting her son.

His daughters, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie will have to focus exclusively on their non-royal day jobs. Their father can no longer champion their part-time royal roles.

For Buckingham Palace the narrative is – job done, nothing to see here, move on. But not so fast. Epstein will remain toxic for some time for Andrew. What does he know – that we don’t know – that is yet to emerge? There’s a BBC Panorama waiting in the wings. Is Ghislaine Maxwell talking to the FBI? What might be revealed if any more court documents are published?

The Andrew debacle is just one aspect of a royal malaise that resulted in the Queen being badly exposed when the Prime Minister first attempted to prorogue Parliament. Another example is the fallout from the Harry and Meghan ITV documentary.

Recent avoidable errors stem from the forced departure, two years ago, of the Queen’s senior advisor, Christopher Geidt. He had attempted to unify the, at times, competing courts. A brilliant public servant and an honourable man, he was the victim of a palace coup. The Queen’s mistake then was not to act. She can now regret at leisure.

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