The statement from Andrew's legal team. Picture: Supplied
The statement from Andrew's legal team. Picture: Supplied

Two words that will doom Prince Andrew

June is usually a stellar month for the royal family.

First there's Trooping the Colour, the Queen's official birthday celebration, a glorious coming together of the extended royal family for a lot of horses and jolly hats.

Then there's Ascot, one of Her Majesty's favourite weeks of the year, during which the royal family descends on the famed racecourse for a lot of horses and jolly hats.

And let's not forget the annual Order of the Garter ceremony which involves a shocking lack of horses but does boast some very jolly hats.

However June 2020 will most likely be a period in time that the royal family would rather forget.

The month started with Tatler publishing a story about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, that while superficially favourable actually portrayed her as a lackadaisical moaner who thought she deserved a holiday quick smart. She and husband Prince William promptly called in the lawyers, a gutsy move for the dependably inoffensive duo.

Then came the latest onslaught in the Prince Andrew saga, which began when The Sun revealed that US authorities had filed a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to the British Home Office, formally seeking help to question him over his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The royal's legal team promptly hit back, putting out a statement saying that the Duke had offered to speak to US investigators on "at least three occasions this year".

 

But, there are two words in particular that I think stick out, which are to be found towards the end of the lengthy statement from his high-powered legal team.

"Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen," the statement fulminates.

And there you have it, two words that Andrew may very well live to regret: "Lower standard."

Clearly someone involved in his enterprise thinks that the Duke has an ace up his sleeve and that the savvy thing is to play the victim card.

And who wouldn't feel sorry for him? He is simply a man, after all, who has grown up in

an extraordinarily wealthy family, enjoyed the run of palaces, been coddled and indulged by staff, and had his mother give him a $27.5 million house.

He has flitted around the world so much he earned the nickname Airmiles Andy and somehow found the cash along the way to buy, partially at least, a $30 million Swiss chalet.

Did I mention he drives a green Bentley with personalised number plates? (DOY, for Duke of York, in case you are wondering.)

Simon Wilson, Britain's deputy head of mission in Bahrain from 2001 to 2005, wrote of a visit from Andrew: "He travelled with a team of six, including equerries, private secretaries,

protection officers and a valet. There was also a 6ft-long ironing board that he insisted went

everywhere he went. It was hilarious to ­witness the valet struggling off the plane with it and

placing the precious object carefully into the minibus."

This is a man who clearly favours a simple life.

I jest, of course.

 

What is so incredible here is not only that a person could be so wildly ignorant of how privileged they are in normal circumstances, but that they could be so spectacularly tone deaf

given these are very clearly not normal times.

For much of the year, the world has been in the grip of a pandemic which has claimed more than 420,000 lives and brought on what will most likely be a global recession if not depression.

Then, the brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked a powerful, international

uprising unlike anything seen since the 1960s, with millions of people marching to end the

injustice, violence and racism that black men and women face across the globe.

And it is the midst of this international conversation about race, power, entitlement and the

role that institutions have played in perpetuating systemic abuse that Andrew (or at least

someone on his legal team) decided to paint him as suffering unjustly at the hands of a cruel

government and system.

While he has made many, many public relations missteps over the last decades, not to say gross errors of judgment, this decision to assume martyr status must surely go down as one of the most galling and tin-eared (to say the least).

Beyond the current social, political and economic climate, when it comes to Jeffrey Epstein

there are real victims here - the young women whose lives were horribly and

profoundly affected by the disgraced financier.

The fact that Andrew is intent on talking about his victimisation while these women have never gotten the justice they desperately deserve betrays a myopia and selfishness that won't win him any fans.

This approach is strange given a recent story in the UK Telegraph which reports that Andrew

has a "working group" made up of lawyers and PR whizzes who are helping him stage a

"meticulously planned fightback" in an attempt to rehabilitate his image.

"With the Queen understood to be 'resigned' to the demise of her favourite son, Andrew

appears to have other ideas," the story states, pointing to the recent Instagram posts showing

Andrew packing care packages for frontline health workers with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and says that he is "secretly pinning his hope on a 'complete exoneration'".

What the Duke so clearly seems to not be able to grasp is that no matter how many gift bags he packs with Fergie, if he really wants to try and make a stab at a return to public life he has to stop, publicly at least, bemoaning his situation.

The bottom line is while Andrew might have hatched a "secret comeback plan" no gaggle of four-figure-per-hour legal hotshots and publicity flacks can make this happen if he continues to portray himself as suffering extraordinarily.

In his mea culpa statement after his calamitous BBC interview in November last year, Andrew

said that Epstein's "suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives".

In his calamitous November BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he deeply sympathised with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. Picture: BBC
In his calamitous November BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he deeply sympathised with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. Picture: BBC

However, what other steps has he taken to help these women? How has he used his platform

and voice to help them find "closure"? What gestures has he made to show his genuine

empathy and sympathy for the women abused by Epstein?

Beyond that, if Andrew is serious about reinvigorating his image, then he needs to stop looking like he is hiding behind the coat-tails of his pricey lawyers and speak to US investigators.

Because, the public can forgive many sins but only with genuine contrition.

Currently, only 13 per cent of Brits have a favourable view of Andrew, according to YouGov polling, down from 17 per cent in January.

At this rate, he could be facing single digit figures in the not too distant future.

Wealthy, white, able men may face many things (prostate cancer; an unholy interest in golf) but being treated at a "lower standard" than others? You've got to be kidding me.

So long as Andrew sees himself as the truly injured party here, he really is doomed to a life hidden embarrassingly away in the royal background.

Good thing he likes golf.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.

Originally published as Two words that will doom Prince Andrew



‘INHUMANE’: Toddler murderer’s appeal bid rejected

Premium Content ‘INHUMANE’: Toddler murderer’s appeal bid rejected

‘Brutal, callous and inhumane’ were the words used to describe the shocking murder...

UPDATE: 7yo trapped in crash flown out by chopper

Premium Content UPDATE: 7yo trapped in crash flown out by chopper

Car crashes into tree leaving girl with serious injuries

Seaside ‘village’ buzzing with developments to the north

Premium Content Seaside ‘village’ buzzing with developments to the north

Council will consider approving the first-ever set of traffic lights in the...