DAN WOOTTON: Prince Andrew is an arrogant gambler who is willing to bet the fate of his family on beating the sex scandal that won’t go away
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
Or, if I were to apply that famous quote by the American author and activist James Baldwin to the British monarchy in 2021, the most dangerous creation for the Royal Family is the Duke of York who has nothing to lose.
It was a weekend of incredible contrasts for Prince Andrew.
The shamed favourite son of the Queen faced a coordinated assault in The Sunday Times from sources close to two future kings – his brother Prince Charles and nephew Prince William – that amounted to a full throttled bid to force him to accept he must permanently retire from public life
Prince William is ‘no fan of Uncle Andrew’ who is a ‘risk’ and ‘threat to the family’, with a friend telling the newspaper: ‘Any suggestion that there isn’t gratitude for the institution, anything that could lead anyone in the public to think that senior members of the royal family aren’t grateful for their position, [William thinks] is really dangerous.’
Prince Andrew is photographed driving near Windsor Castle in his Range Rover this morning
The Duke was seen after Scotland Yard abandoned a review of abuse allegations against him
But then, hours later, the narrative moved ever so slightly in Andrew’s favour as Scotland Yard abandoned its review of sex abuse allegations surrounding him and the revolting paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
In a massive boost for Andrew, the force decided to take no further action over his accuser Virginia Roberts’ allegation that she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old and forced to have sex with him on more than one occasion, an allegation which he has strongly denied.
That decision is only going to embolden the 61-year-old prince to up his campaign to return to a public role.
As I have been reporting for many months, guided by his comically loyal former wife and current partner Sarah Ferguson and the financial backing of the Queen, Randy Andy is planning a comeback, to hell with what Charles or William think.
William is right, of course, such a move is utterly preposterous. It provides the single biggest threat to the respectability of the Royal Family since Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson’s links to the Nazis were exposed.
There is an ongoing civil case with Virginia Roberts, a looming court case with Ghislaine Maxwell, and Andrew has consistently failed to assist the FBI in its criminal investigation into Epstein.
But the question plaguing senior courtiers is: What, if anything, can they do to stop Andrew?
After all, this is the man who used the immediate aftermath of his father’s death to ensure he could appear in front of the TV cameras to kickstart his public comeback and then caused turmoil for the Queen by apparently attempting to wear an admiral’s uniform to the funeral.
In her civil suit, Virginia Roberts (left) claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew at the New York mansion of Epstein (right) and on Little St James, his private island in the Caribbean
And, like it or not, he’s the Queen’s son, retains the Duke of York title and cannot be easily controlled.
In Andrew’s ideal scenario, the legal furore is over in time for him to take what he believes is his rightful place on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after Trooping the Colour on Thursday, June 2 2022.
Such a plan may sound unlikely, given it’s a matter of months away and royal sources have already ruled him out from taking part, but working out how to force Prince Andrew to stay away will not be easy, especially given non-royal royals Prince Harry and Meghan may well return from the US for the weekend of celebrations.
My senior royal sources have stressed over the past 24 hours that there will be no formal return to royal life for Prince Andrew but concede that doesn’t mean he isn’t intent on making a comeback in a private capacity.
One royal insider told me: ‘Prince William is puffing his chest out on this one. He is mortified about the prospect of Prince Andrew continuing to embarrass the family.
‘But it is Prince Charles calling the shots in regards to his formal role and he knows there is no way back for his brother. That was also something discussed with Prince Philip before his death.
‘The reality is that when Charles takes the throne there won’t even be any major role for Princess Anne or Prince Edward, either. They will essentially be on the sidelines because Charles is determined to bring in a slimmed down monarchy.
‘There is an understanding that Andrew wants to establish a role for himself, but the question is as what? He sealed his fate with the Emily Maitlis interview – that nailed his future.
Scotland Yard decided to take no further action over Virginia Giuffre’s allegation that she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old and forced to have sex with Andrew or claims Epstein groomed other women in the UK. Pictured: Andrew with Epstein in New York in 2010
‘The Queen and Charles believe what Andrew tells them, but also agree there can’t be a formal role. And even an informal role would be hard – all his charities have given up on him.
‘The Queen would love to make him an Admiral of the Fleet, but that is being resisted by the military who want to sever all ties.’
However, another senior royal insider with knowledge of Prince Andrew’s thinking says Fergie and her ex-hubby have hatched a plan that will see him continue working for charities and slowly raise his profile.
They added: ‘The biggest issue with Andrew is that he is so arrogant. His arrogance overwhelms anything else. He still thinks he’s important. He’s a young 61 and he isn’t going away. Not any time soon, anyway.’
That’s why Prince William is so worried.
In the same way the spectre of Prince Harry and Meghan will continue to tarnish the Royal Family – especially in the US – with unproven allegations of racism, the continued presence of Prince Andrew connects the British monarchy with unbridled sleaze and privilege.
Given a primetime BBC TV special to clear his name and multiple opportunities to do so formally with the American authorities, Andrew has never been able to explain why he pursued a close relationship with the most despicable paedophile, even after he’d been to jail.
So even if the civil suit being pursued by Virginia Roberts ends up being thrown out and the FBI give up on interviewing Prince Andrew, the stench around his relationship with Epstein – with so many important questions unanswered – will not fade.
The fact Andrew – now the least favourite royal among the British public – cannot see that makes his ongoing bid for a public role pitiful and pathetic.
But so long as he remains ensconced at Royal Lodge in the grounds of Windsor Castle being bankrolled by the Queen with formal military titles that he refuses to give up, every public move Prince Andrew makes will continue to damage a Royal Family likely just years away from making the dreaded transition from the Queen to Charles.
If Andrew has nothing to hide and genuinely believes he could one day play a public role, the only way he will gain a modicum of credibility is to fly to New York tomorrow to personally assist the FBI in their Epstein investigation.
We all know there’s zero chance of that happening and it poses uncomfortable questions about what Prince Andrew has to hide.
At 95, the Queen doesn’t have the heart to fully cut off her favourite son, leaving her heir Prince Charles somewhat powerless. For now.
No wonder Prince William thinks his wayward Uncle Andrew is dangerous – the ongoing damage he could cause to the Royal Family if he continues to plot a return to public life is hard to calculate.
Prince Andrew has no shame. He’s a disgrace and an embarrassment.
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