Great Britain’s royal family are no strangers to scandal and over the years has assembled top notch PR experts to control and spin unsavoury events and in doing so, continue to garner popular support throughout the UK and the rest of the world. In the past few weeks however, one senior member of the family has irretrievably damaged his own reputation, while other members have done the only sensible thing to do to save their own reputation – cut him loose.
Over the years, Prince Andrew has avoided most of the sort of gaffes or incidents that regularly plagued princess Margaret, the duchess of York, or the dependably verbally offensive Prince Phillip. He attained relatively esteemed status for his wartime service in the Falklands war in 1982 and the public generally sided with him in his split with the headline grabbing Sarah Ferguson but that has all changed in the past few weeks all because he decided to publicly deny consistent allegations of underage sex with a young woman who says she was a part of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
As reported in PRWeek, Prince Andrew went against seasoned advice to appear in an hour long interview on the BBC. “The interview should never have happened; indeed, his former PR advisor Jacob Stein urged against it. The Duke of York should be answering questions to US authorities first, while maintaining a low media profile before even considering trying to clear his reputation via the press. In ignoring such advice, Andrew was always destined to face a difficult time. But the prince’s conduct in the interview meant he totally failed to generate any sympathy for his position; quite the opposite. His reputation will probably never recover. (Source: “Flop of the Month: Prince Andrew’s reputation in tatters after Newsnight interview disaster”).
Worst of all was the prince’s complete and total lack of remorse, empathy or understanding about victim, Virginia Giuffre. While he strenuously denied the allegations he did so in such a way that his arrogance and difference was acutely emphasised. The Royal family may be one of the richest families in the world with real estate holdings and personal wealth that is more than substantial but they have strove to actively eradicate notions of aloofness and privilege while appealing to a broad spectrum of the British population.
The duke of York single handedly undid a dedicated campaign of decades of hard work and ensured his relegation to what could best be described, as the royal dog box. Not only has the prince been removed as head of a number of high profile charities and organisations, he has quickly and quietly been cast out of the public life of the royal family – reportedly by the direct intervention of the heir to the crown, prince Charles. Charles is known for his progressive views and is looking toward a more modern, connected and accountable crown – one where the actions of his wayward brother are horribly incongruent.
In all honesty, there are times when people’s actions and behaviour require being cut loose to protect a collective reputation. Prince Andrew made a serious of baffling and disastrous public statements hoping to sweep hideous allegations under the carpet.
The future looks even more fraught for him as he may be called to give evidence in the FBI inquiry in the US into Epstein’s sex trafficking and underage rape allegations. There would be no place for the prince to do that within the royal family, while acting in public to represent them. But as the saying goes – you make your bed, you lie it.