A British author believes Queen Elizabeth II will be 'regretting' modernising the monarchy in the 1960s following the Prince Andrew scandal
There’s no denying it, the last few days have been a real headache for Queen Elizabeth II. Her son Prince Andrew made global headlines on Saturday when he finally addressed his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the 66-year-old multimillionaire businessman and registered sex offender who died in an apparent suicide earlier this year.
It’s assumed The Duke of York hoped to end his link to the tainted businessman. In fact, it did the opposite, and Prince Andrew faced the wrath of the public, media and corporate world that had supported his charitable work. So much so, yesterday the royal released an almost emotional statement, outlining that he had asked the queen to ‘step down’ from royal duties and she gave her permission.
But could this huge public embarrassment have been avoided for the British royal family? Simon Jenkins, a former British newspaper editor who has written several books on the politics and history of England, told the BBC it is effectively the queen’s fault for allowing her children to become ‘celebrities’, and therefore subject to public scrutiny and opinion.
He explained, ‘Britain is unlike – if not unique – most monarchies, as back in the 1960s I think most unwisely the queen decided to update the monarchy to collectivise it from one individual person – herself – to all her children. It made it seem as if she was being modern, but in fact it made the monarchy vulnerable to any misbehaviour on the part of the children.’
He continued, ‘It turned the children into celebrities. As celebrities they were in the public eye, they carried out public duties and whatever they got up to would inevitably reflect on the monarchy itself. It was a very high risk thing to do and ever since then I would have thought she would be regretting it.’
The author added, ‘The most important thing is to make sure the monarch, in a sense, is not a real person. It’s a personification of the Headship of State. The safest way to do this is to have one person who is the national Head of State who performs various public duties in the name of the whole state, like the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians do. When you turn it into a family, you’re complicating it hugely.’
The journalist also told the BBC what he made of the most recent news that the prince is resigning from public duties. ‘It’s a welcome announcement,’ he replied, ‘I just don’t think it’s terribly important. His public duties were not all that onerous, but it’s the obvious response to the very embarrassing situation he finds himself in. I think it’s a sensible decision.’
Meanwhile the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond commented, ‘I find it difficult to see how he steps back into public duties without some real form of closure, i.e some investigative authority saying it was nothing to do with him. This is going to hang over him and it’s very difficult to see how it will be cleared. This may well be the end for Prince Andrew, in terms of his public duties and his public life.’
Questions still remain on our lips – like why Prince Andrew remained friends with Jeffrey Epstein for so long – but as he steps out of the royal spotlight, it will be harder to get these questions answered.