It has long been said that Prince Andrew, the second son of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, was Her Majesty’s favourite. He was born almost 10 years into her reign, at a time when the monarch could dedicate more time to her growing family, rather than focusing solely on her role as Sovereign. A new ITV documentary, titled The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, explored the Queen’s relationship with the Duke of York, describing it as “particularly close” and noting her continued support of Andrew despite the controversy that surrounded him.
The final episode of ITV’s recent documentary delved into the roles of royal heirs and spares — focusing particularly on Prince William and his brother Prince Harry, King Charles III and Prince Andrew, and the pivotal role the late Queen Elizabeth II played in managing the doomed dynamic.
In 2015, cracks in the Royal Family’s public image were beginning to show as its foundations were rocked by allegations against the Duke of York.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre brought a defamation case against Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, alleging the pair had sex-trafficked her starting in 2000 and that Epstein had forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew in 2001 when she was 17.
However, the allegation was thrown out and struck from the record by a judge, who declared it was “immaterial and impertinent to the central claim” in the case at the time.
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Andrew, who had been holidaying in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, approved the statement which was widely considered extraordinarily frank for a member of the Royal Family.
George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991-2002, described the unique dynamics within the House of Windsor, telling the recent documentary: “The more distant a special family is, the more they have to huddle together to find warmth within it.
“You’ve got to keep things private which puts a burden on members of the family as well because, of course, everyone wants to know what’s going on.”
Despite a growing crisis within the Palace, the Queen did not suspend her second son. Instead, he was sent to represent the monarch at the World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, that January.
In fact, Andrew continued in his royal role until 2019, when court documents from the 2015 defamation were unsealed, making Ms Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew public.
After a disastrous interview on BBC’s Newsnight, the Duke stepped down from his royal position. “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” Andrew said in a statement.
But, as the documentary pointed out, “the story was not going away”.
In 2021, Ms Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Andrew accusing him of sexual assault, and in January 2022, a judge denied the Duke of York’s request to dismiss the case.
Having held onto his military honours and royal patronages and continued using his HRH title, thus far. The Queen made her “final self-sacrifice” by relinquishing her favourite son of the titles.
Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying the Duke of York will face the lawsuit as a private citizen.
“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” a spokesperson for said. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
In February 2022, Andrew reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre. He has vehemently denied all allegations and the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
All episodes of The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor are available to stream on itvX here.