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Prince Philip retires: Will Andrew be the Queen's new Plus One?

On a glorious spring morning in San Diego yesterday, Prince Andrew paused briefly for photographers as he arrived to speak at a cybersecurity conference at the University of California. He made no comment, however, on the Duke of Edinburgh's decision to retire from public duties, although for the Prince it heralds a significant - and welcome - change to his own role within the Royal Family.

Andrew, who flew to the US last Friday on an official trip and is due back next week, is promoting his successful charity scheme to help budding young entrepreneurs. But in future the prince, famously dubbed Air Miles Andy because of his love of travel - too often at the taxpayers' expense - may have to cut back on his overseas sojourns.

The Queen's second son has emerged - unexpectedly - as a key figure in what is now known informally at Buckingham Palace as "Team Windsor". The move hints at subtle shifts in the axis of power at Buckingham Palace, with what some royal watchers are describing as the "rehabilitation" of Prince Andrew.

At the same time, it shines a spotlight on prominent younger royals who stand accused in some quarters of being "workshy" and must now step up to validate their positions in Team Windsor, while others desperate to play a more significant part in public life - most notably Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie - have been left disappointed once again.

The move has done little to heal the alleged rift between Prince Charles and his younger brother over the perceived ongoing slight to the Princesses.

The Mail can reveal that, after months of consultation and careful planning for yesterday's momentous announcement, it is Andrew, the sixth in line to the throne, who will increasingly step into the breach to act as the Queen's plus one.

In December, he was at her side at a Buckingham Palace charity reception. Last month, he accompanied the Queen to a ceremony at Windsor Castle where she honoured the Royal Lancers, presenting the regiment with a ceremonial flag, known as a guidon, as a symbol of their loyalty to the monarchy. If it was a dress rehearsal for what is to come, then it passed faultlessly.

"They get on very well," according to one courtier, who added that "there is ample precedence already for the Queen doing engagements with people who are not her husband".

The Duke of York is expected to take a more prominent role. Photo / AP
The Duke of York is expected to take a more prominent role. Photo / AP

The Prince of Wales, who at 68 will become the oldest active male royal after his father's retirement in the autumn, is already taking on many of the Queen's engagements as he prepares for the throne.

As for Prince William, his decision to give up his job as pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service, and to move his family from Anmer Hall in Norfolk to Kensington Palace later this summer, was in direct response to the request to do more to support his 91-year-old grandmother. The courtier added: "When it was announced in January that William was giving up the day job, the Palace was already planning for Prince Philip's retirement."

It is intended that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the core members of Team Windsor, will also carry out many more formal engagements. "Prince Andrew will be doing more high-profile engagements and has already stepped in to accompany the Queen on a number of occasions," a senior Buckingham Palace source confirmed yesterday. "The same applies to the senior grandchildren: William, Harry and Kate."

The move represents consolidation of Prince Charles's long-held vision of a slimmed-down working monarchy, and Prince Andrew will relish no doubt his inclusion and a return to the spotlight after the intense controversy surrounding his friendship with the American billionaire, and convicted child sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.

The move represents consolidation of Prince Charles's long-held vision of a slimmed-down working monarchy. Photo / AP
The move represents consolidation of Prince Charles's long-held vision of a slimmed-down working monarchy. Photo / AP

In 2011 Andrew was forced to stand down from his role as "special representative" for UK Trade & Investment - now the Department for International Trade - after it emerged that he had stayed at Epstein's home in Florida and flown with him in his private jet. He quit the post, which he loved and had been doing since 2001, after an hour-long meeting with the Queen.

The prince, who receives £249,000 in a parliamentary annuity reimbursed from the Queen's private funds, has also faced questions over his friendships with various billionaires and politicians in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Libya and Turkmenistan.
However, his pleasure in a higher profile role, will be diminished by the fact he has been thwarted finally in his ambitions for Beatrice, 28, and Eugenie, 27, to be included as fully paid up members of 'The Firm', let alone Team Windsor.

He has been pressing hard in recent years for them to be allowed to carry out duties supported by the Sovereign Grant - the public purse which funds the royals' work. But Andrew, who carried out 348 engagements last year compared with Charles's 469, has been rebuffed repeatedly by his older brother. Over the past few months, the discussions about the impending announcement of their father's retirement presented Andrew with what he considered to be a last chance to persuade the Queen that his daughters should become working royals. But the Queen deferred to Charles and rejected his request.

Furthermore, Charles is adamant that Beatrice and Eugenie will not become even part-time working royals. Asked about the princesses, a Palace source said: "They are working girls who have jobs. They will appear at family occasions, and at some receptions at the Palace, but there will be no change in their status."

Although they carry out charity work, the princesses have little public profile beyond their attendance at various society functions, outings to nightclubs and on their many exotic holidays. Beatrice, who has a 2:1 degree in history, has had four jobs in five years (on both sides of the Atlantic) in the charity sector and in finance. Eugenie, who has a degree in English literature and history of art from Newcastle University, is an associate director with Hauser & Wirth, an art gallery in London's Savile Row.

It is intended that the William and Harry the core members of Team Windsor, will also carry out many more formal engagements. Photo / AP
It is intended that the William and Harry the core members of Team Windsor, will also carry out many more formal engagements. Photo / AP

A friend of Andrew said the prince is distressed by the denial of a suitable role for his daughters. "Andrew takes the view that his daughters, the only two blood princesses of their generation, should be doing more for the Royal Family. They want to do more and he wants them to do more.

"But they have been pushed back by Charles. It has caused bad blood between the brothers." The friend added: "Charles wants the focus on him, as the heir, Camilla his queen, William, Kate and Harry. The Queen has gone along with it as she sees the virtue of a slimmed-down monarchy for the future."

The first hint in public of Charles's "new order" was given at the RAF fly-past that ended the Jubilee celebrations in 2012. On the Palace balcony, watching the Red Arrows and Second World War aircraft roar overhead were the Queen, Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, and Harry (Prince Philip missed the celebrations because he was ill and in hospital). Of Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and their children there was no sign. The snub to Andrew was described at the time as feeling "like a dagger in his heart".
Charles's plans for Team Windsor have also caused irritation to the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who are both full-time working royals and carried out more than 700 engagements between them last year. To preserve their status in the royal pecking order, the Queen has decreed that Prince Edward will inherit his father's title as the Duke of Edinburgh when the time comes.

Charles is adamant that Beatrice and Eugenie will not become even part-time working royals. Photo / AP
Charles is adamant that Beatrice and Eugenie will not become even part-time working royals. Photo / AP

The Countess of Wessex, who is one of the Queen's favourites, is viewed as a particular asset, having honed her public image very effectively in recent years. "The Queen feels very comfortable with Sophie and admirers the way she and Edward have turned things round [after the failure of their respective business ventures]," a Palace source said.
The one royal unlikely to be bothered about her inclusion (or not) in Team Windsor is, paradoxically, the hardest working of them all. There will be little change in the role played by Anne, who last year carried out 640 engagements, dwarfing the 485 by William, Harry and Kate combined. "She is already very visible," said a courtier. "It's difficult to see how she could do any more."

Even the Duke of Kent, 81, and the Duchess of Gloucester, 70, outperformed the younger royals, carrying out 225 and 226 engagements respectively. William (204 engagements including tours of Canada and India), Harry (166 including a 15-day Caribbean tour) and Kate (115) may need to up their game if they are to prove their worth on Team Windsor.

- Daily Mail

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