Royal battle of the brothers: Queen sides with Prince Andrew and daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie

By Katie Nicholl

They have been derided as workshy, scorned for their many lavish holidays, and mocked - perhaps unfairly - for their fashion sense.

But while they might lack the status of their royal cousins or the elegance of the Duchess of Cambridge, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie can be confident of one thing at least: they are adored by their grandmother.

Over the years, The Queen, disheartened by the marriage breakdowns of three of her children, has stayed especially close to her grandchildren. Indeed, so fond is the Queen of Beatrice and Eugenie that she has now sided with them and their father Prince Andrew in their growing family rift with Prince Charles.

A senior member of the Queen's court has told The Mail on Sunday that, while she must publicly be seen to support Charles as he plans for the future, she believes that his hopes of sidelining Beatrice and Eugenie could prove impractical.

For the sake of the Monarchy, they should be allowed to carry out more royal duties.

"The Queen adores the girls and is keen for them to have some kind of a role," said the source. "Charles's vision for a streamlined family is all very well, but how can the Royal Family do everything it currently does with just five players?"

At present, the sisters are not on the official royal roster, although they attend engagements when they can.

It is a long-running and increasingly acrimonious row. Prince Charles is determined that there should be a slimmed-down Monarchy, with full royal status and financial support limited to leading members of the family.

And as the Queen hands over responsibility to her eldest son, his reforming spirit is increasingly influential - to the dismay of his younger brother, the Duke Of York, who is understandably concerned that his daughters will be phased out of royal life when Charles becomes King.

Last weekend it was reported that Andrew had gone so far as to write to his mother to lobby for more significant roles for them.

He feels strongly, sources say, that Beatrice and Eugenie should no longer be excluded from royal duties and that they should be properly compensated with state funding.

At the Diamond Jubilee flypast in 2012, The Queen was joined on the Buckingham Palace balcony only by Camilla, Charles, William, Kate and Harry - to the chagrin of Andrew. Photo / Getty Images
At the Diamond Jubilee flypast in 2012, The Queen was joined on the Buckingham Palace balcony only by Camilla, Charles, William, Kate and Harry - to the chagrin of Andrew. Photo / Getty Images

He also requested that his daughters, who live in rented accommodation at St James's Palace, should be granted accommodation at Kensington Palace along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

In contrast with Princess Anne, Andrew gave his children royal titles at birth.

The feud has been gathering ever since Beatrice and Eugenie were stripped of their £500,000 (NZ$850,000)-a-year round-the-clock police protection six years ago. At the time it was made clear that they would have to support themselves with full-time jobs.

Andrew now finds himself paying for the girls' private protection officers.

In the same year, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were told to start paying the market rent of £120,000 (NZ$204,000) a year on their apartment at Kensington Palace.

There was more trouble to come in the run-up to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, when it was suggested that Prince William had failed to involve Beatrice in the preparations.

And then came the most public blow of all, when Charles excluded his siblings Andrew, Edward and Anne and their children from joining the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the RAF flypast to mark the Jubilee.

A rift between Princes Charles and Andrew has seen the heir to the thrown attempt to sideline his nieces from royal duties. Photo / AP
A rift between Princes Charles and Andrew has seen the heir to the thrown attempt to sideline his nieces from royal duties. Photo / AP

Charles decided that just the top tier of royals should appear in public for the close of the celebrations, so the Queen was joined only by Charles, Camilla, William, Harry and Kate. The 'snub' is said to have upset many family members, including the Duke of Edinburgh, who had been ill in hospital with a bladder infection.

It was also seen as a pivotal moment, with Charles laying down a blueprint for the future - and Andrew taking up the cudgels. Sources suggest Andrew has complained to his mother that the princesses are in danger of being overshadowed by the Cambridges and that Beatrice and Eugenie "deserve proper royal roles like their cousins, along with the same standard of accommodation at Kensington Palace". He fears that they will be totally sidelined when the Queen dies.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment, but a source close to Her Majesty - who hates confrontation - said: "The row between Andrew and Charles is not pleasant. It has been going on for many years and it all comes down to Andrew feeling that he and his family are being phased out."

It has been said - although not confirmed - that the Queen passed Andrew's letter on to her private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt who then raised the matter with Prince Charles. He, in turn, is said to be immovable, expressing the view that a member of the Government should tell Andrew directly that his children cannot be working royals.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that Prince Edward, the Queen's youngest son, has also been drafted in to act as a peacekeeper.

While Princess Anne turned down royal titles for her children Peter and Zara Phillips, Prince Andrew's girls, who are seventh and eighth in line to the throne, were given royal titles at birth. Peter and Zara are 13th and 16th in line respectively.

Charles is increasingly powerful in the house of Windsor. There is already a quiet handover of power taking place at Buckingham Palace as he prepares for succession.

The Prince of Wales, 67, carries out the lion's share of overseas travel on behalf of the Queen as well as investitures and other engagements. He carries out more engagements than any other member of the Royal Family except for Princess Anne in order to help out his 90-year-old mother and 95-year-old father.

Charles is said to have been increasingly annoyed by Andrew's behaviour, including his involvement in the £15 million sale of his marital home Sunninghill Park (a wedding gift from the Queen); his friendship with US tycoon Jeffrey Epstein, who was jailed for sex offences; and a handful of ill-fated decisions such as taking a holiday with a Libyan gun smuggler which contributed to Andrew having to step down as the UK's special trade envoy.

The Duke's ongoing friendship with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, and his decision to buy a £13 million (NZ$22 million) chalet in Verbier with her are also said to have rankled with Charles.

"This row has been going on for years, but it's been under the radar. It hasn't got better, it's got worse," adds the source.

- Daily Mail

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