Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s third child, became embroiled in controversy (once again) in 2019 due to his connection with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The Duke of York allegedly had sex with an underage girl whom Epstein procured, a claim Andrew and Buckingham Palace have denied on more than one occasion. Following a troubling televised interview on the matter, Prince Andrew stepped down from his royal duties in November 2019. Although this was the scandal that finally ended Andrew’s royal career, it was certainly not the first in the 60-year-old prince’s life.
As The Washington Post reported in 2015, Andrew is the prince of scandals, and he's been the most controversial royal for decades. Over the years, the press gave him the nickname “Randy Andy” in reference to his reputation as the “playboy prince.” His marriage to and subsequent divorce from Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson resulted in its own set of scandals
The queen, born into tradition and rules, doesn’t seem to have much patience for drama or scandal, yet Andrew is reportedly her favorite of her four children. In The Crown season 4 episode 4, “Favourites,” Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) learns that Margaret Thatcher favors her son, Mark, over his twin, Carol. The monarch then wonders whether she has a favorite child, though she seems to be the only one unaware of the answer. Later in the episode, she asks Philip (Tobias Menzies) if she made a mistake being so soft on Andrew, her favorite son. Good question.
Are these two really as close as The Crown wants us to believe? Read on for the evidence.
When Andrew was born, the queen had more time for her children.
Andrew was born 12 years after his oldest sibling, Prince Charles, and by the time he came along, the Queen decided to take time away from her royal duties. Historian Robert Lacey told Town & Country that "evidence suggests she became warmer and more flexible as time went by." Andrew was the first baby to come along after the queen stepped back from some of her responsibilities as monarch to focus on being a parent, and she was able to be a more present mother for her two youngest children than she was for Charles and Ann.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, drew a direct link between the queen’s change in lifestyle and her cozy relationship with her third son: "She was able to give him more attention and Andrew was someone with whom she's had a particular affinity," Fitzwilliams told CNN.
In his early years, Prince Andrew charmed the world.
Andrew took a different path than his older brother. Instead of going to college, he joined the Royal Navy. He also served in the controversial Falkland Islands War in 1982, when Britain took over the Falkland Islands from Argentinian control. As the fictional Andrew (Tom Byrne) mentions in the season, he was thought of as a war hero, while Charles could claim no such notoriety.
In real life, when Andrew and Ferguson started publicly dating, the two were seen as the relatable “it” couple of the late ‘80s, following the fascination with Diana and Charles earlier in the decade. In 1986, The New York Times described“Fergie Fever” in London ahead of Andrew and Ferguson’s wedding. The Times also reported that the queen was pleased with Andrew’s choice “after some of his earlier flings.”
Many criticized the queen’s apparent lack of action during the Epstein scandal.
The Crown’s focus on the queen’s favorite was pretty pointed. This season premieres after the Epstein controversy broke, something fans of the show definitely have fresh in their minds. So, when the show's queen addresses her favoritism of Andrew, it’s easy to draw the connection to how the royal family handled Andrew’s allegations over the past few years.
As political journalist Rosa Prince wrote in an opinion piece for CNN in early 2020, the optics of the queen not stepping in during this time did not look good for the royal family.
“In her close to seven decades on the throne, the Queen of England has rarely faltered in her sense of duty or made a serious misstep,” Prince wrote in March. “She is doing both now, however—not in her treatment of her grandson, Harry, and his wife Meghan, who made their last public appearance as senior royals this week, but, more insidiously, her handling of another problematic relative, her son Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.”
Prince wrote that, until Andrew cooperated with New York authorities in the Epstein investigation, “the queen should display the sacrifice and sense of duty which have been the hallmarks of her reign by removing from the duke all remaining vestiges of the privilege of serving as a member of the royal family—yes, even if as an ordinary British citizen he is exposed to an extradition request by the U.S.”
Andrew stepped down from his duties as a royal in November 2019. Royal expert Katie Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight that this was his decision and his alone.
"My sources at Buckingham Palace are insisting that it was the duke's decision and that the statement reflects that," Nicholl told ET at the time. "He says in that, that it's his decision to step down with the Queen's approval…Reading between the lines, it is my understanding that Andrew understood he had to go. It was made very clear to him in that meeting between him and the queen that he had no choice but to step down from royal duties."
She went on: "It must have been incredibly hard for the queen, his mother—Andrew is widely regarded to be her favorite son—but she recognized that there was a huge amount of damage being done to the monarchy. He had no option, the queen had no option, but for Andrew to step back from royal duties."
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