Just Why Is King Charles Rehabilitating Prince Andrew?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

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Fifty-four weeks ago, Prince Andrew’s prospects looked bleak. He had already been expelled from the family, stripped of his office and his monthly allowance. Now he was stricken by the death of his mother, his last and greatest protector, the woman who had always indulged her favorite child and overlooked his mistakes.

It seemed unlikely we would ever see much of Andrew on the public stage ever again, especially as it was his brother, King Charles, who had been almost entirely behind the moves to defenestrate Andrew over the preceding decade.

Given that he had been at best unhelpful and at worst actively militated against his younger brother when he was merely Prince Charles, the era of King Charles III didn’t seem likely to hold promise of great favor for Andrew.

King Charles Isn’t Going to Kick Prince Andrew Out of Royal Lodge. Yet.

And yet, from the very start, there were signs that perhaps Charles’ reign would not, in fact, be as disastrous for Andrew as his lengthy regal apprenticeship had suggested.

Andrew is now reconciled to a strange, unique position—a royal very much in the family fold in private, but one without any public-facing role. Asked if there was a prospect Andrew would ever be allowed to represent the family again, a friend of King Charles told The Daily Beast, “No. That is settled.”

A friend of Andrew’s told The Daily Beast that they also believed Andrew did not harbor dreams of a return to public life. “What’s done is done,” the friend said, “Andrew can’t turn the clock back.”

However, Charles has also made it clear that Andrew is still very much part of the family. The first glimmer of hope for Andrew came in the run-up to the funeral: Although Andrew had been told he would not be allowed to wear his naval uniform to the funeral itself, having been stripped of his military associations in January of that year when he was kicked out of the ranks of the working royals as Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against him rumbled on, he was permitted to wear his uniform for a vigil at his mother’s coffin, alongside his siblings Charles, Prince Edward, and Princess Anne.

The public show of magnanimity from the king continued in a steady stream. Andrew was seated in the front row at the funeral. He was allowed to adopt Queen Elizabeth’s corgis. He was invited to Christmas at Sandringham, and allowed to attend and walk to church with the rest of the family. (In the last years of his mother’s life, he had been ordered, many said at Charles’ behest, to attend an earlier 8 a.m. service on his own or with an assigned sibling.)

Another big public symbol came when Andrew was permitted to wear an ornate outfit known as “Garter Robes” to the coronation of his brother. Wearing this archaic costume is the exclusive right of members of the “Order of the Garter,” an ancient chivalric club with just 14 members; the great and the good as handpicked by the monarch. Notably, this left Harry as the only lineal heir to the throne not in military or special uniform.

Then this summer, a big one: He was invited to Balmoral for the weekend, and packed off to church in a car with William and Kate in front of photographers. In the background, another key concession granted to Andrew by the king was that he was allowed to hang on to his weekend of shooting at Windsor Castle in November 2022, and he is expected to keep the privilege this year as well.

This was not made public, but within the family and their circle it was seen as another clear statement of support for Andrew. It is considered a bit gauche to accept an invite to shoot if you can’t offer one in return, so keeping his Windsor days means that Andrew was free to accept shooting invites. Thus his usual busy winter social season, pegged around country shooting weekends, has remained unchanged.

One acquaintance in the shooting world told The Daily Beast: “The shoot at Windsor is of course a wonderful day, and invites are like gold dust. It’s not a rule but hosts do generally expect their guests to reciprocate, although I think it’s fair to say Andrew’s friends are pretty loyal and most would have stood by him and continued to invite him even if he couldn’t return the hospitality. He has been shooting with some of them literally all his life, after all. But he still has his days on the royal estate so nothing has changed. It would have been jolly mean to take them off him.”

There are also suggestions from some of Andrew’s friends that his financial situation is rosier than might be imagined, and that he continues to receive support from his brother. There have even been reports that he continues to receive meals from the Windsor Castle kitchen, and that there are visits by the palace groundskeeping and gardening team to help maintain the massive garden at his home, Royal Lodge (from which reported efforts to evict him appear to have been paused, more on which below).

The key question, however, is the financial settlement paid to Virginia Giuffre. Details have never been revealed, but it is thought to have been around $14 million, and it is understood it was largely paid by the late monarch. There were reports this was a loan, but, again, these have never been confirmed.

Some sources now suspect that the debt was forgiven in his mother’s will, and that the proceeds of the sale of Andrew and Sarah’s chalet in Verbier were actually used to buy a Mayfair townhouse in Sarah Ferguson’s name. The London property had been on the market for £6.75m ($9 million). Public records show that Andrew sold the Swiss property, Chalet Helora, for $22m. However, $9 million was still owed to the former owner, $2m to another creditor, and a hefty mortgage would have had to be settled as well.

One friend of the family said: “It’s not unusual for debts to die with your parents, and the late queen certainly had a soft spot for him. It’s not the sort of thing one asks but it has been gossiped about. How else does one explain them funding the property in Mayfair?”

Spokespersons for Andrew and the king did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

A friend of the king said they did not know the details of any financial arrangements between Andrew and Charles, but said that Charles had made it “very clear” that his brother “would not be abandoned” by the family. A previous iteration of this formula reportedly had Charles vowing not to leave his brother “homeless or penniless.”

However, the fact remains that it is Charles who is widely believed to have masterminded Andrew’s exclusion from the core family, beginning with his family being cut from balcony appearances and ending with him being expelled from the working family altogether.

Asked why Charles now appeared to be expending political capital on the rehabilitation of Andrew, when in earlier years Charles seemed to be one of Andrew’s most implacable foes, the friend said: “It was always a huge media invention that there was this undying enmity between them. It has never been the case. Andrew couldn’t continue representing the family after the lawsuit, but he has not been found guilty of any crime and he is still part of the family. He is part of the family but not part of the institution. It really is as simple as that.”

The friend said that Andrew had benefited from comparisons to Harry, saying: “Unlike Harry, Andrew has done everything he has been asked to, and Charles realizes that. He hasn’t written a book, he hasn’t given interviews. His [Andrew’s] primary concern has been to protect the monarchy. He is intensely loyal to the monarchy.”

The friend said Andrew “lives a pretty quiet life” at Royal Lodge, the palatial home he was given by his mother. Andrew is said to watch lots of TV boxsets to pass the time.

Suggestions that Charles may try and evict Andrew from the house have been quietly dropped after Andrew’s camp pushed back against them strongly, pointing out he had a signed lease on the property. Another black swan event occurred when his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, who also lives at Royal Lodge, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, which was treated with a mastectomy, an ordeal she chronicled with typical cheerfulness in her new podcast.

In a recent edition of her podcast, Fergie said Andrew was “human like everybody else” and was “lonely” without his mother and “thinks about it a lot.”

And yet, little over a year after his mother’s death, Andrew might be forgiven for feeling some satisfaction at how things have turned out.

He may be loathed by the British public, a fact all recent polls confirm, but in many areas he retains the privileges of his royal position: a gigantic house with a couple of Range Rovers in the drive, a stable of horses to ride whenever he chooses, and a sparkling sporting calendar—not to mention a freezer full of Windsor Castle’s finest fish pies to watch in front of Netflix should the long winter evenings drag.

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