Prince Andrew: How he went from favorite son to outsider

For a long time, Prince Andrew was considered Queen Elizabeth’s favorite son. A series of momentous decisions on his life path made him go from golden boy to outsider. A chronicle of his scandals.

Queen Elizabeth’s second son, 95, has a reputation for being his mother’s darling. As a family man, he maintained a good relationship with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, 62, for many years after the separation in order to provide a stable home for his daughters, Princess Beatrice, 33, and Princess Eugenie, 31. The ex-couple is still on friendly terms to this day. It could all be so beautiful if the royal hadn’t made some rash missteps that ruined his reputation over the years.

Prince Andrew + Sarah Ferguson: marriage, separation and a foot scandal

In 1986, just a year after meeting his childhood friend Sarah Ferguson, he got down on his knees in front of her and proposed marriage to her. Without the Queen’s consent. After the monarch got the news after her return from a trip to Australia and she agreed to the marriage, Andrew and Sarah announced their engagement. Only five months later, on July 23, 1986, they tied the knot at Westmister Abbey.

On March 17, 1986, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew announced their engagement.

© Tim Graham Photo Library / Getty Images

Just as hastily as the love of the two began, that’s how it ended. After six years of marriage and two daughters together, Prince Andrew announced the separation in March 1992. Five months later, spicy photos of his ex-wife were circulating in the press: Paparazzi photos showed the Duchess of York topless at the pool of her vacation home in St. Tropez in a rather intimate situation with her then “financial advisor”. The Texas millionaire John Bryan kissed and sucked her toes with relish while she lolled on a sun lounger.

At that time she was living with the Queen at her seat in Balmoral. That same morning, it is said, she packed her bags and was not invited there for eleven years.

Flight miles Andy

Again and again, members of the British royal family with their numerous air travel come under criticism. In 2003, Prince Andrew was even nicknamed “Air Miles Andy” after he had several appointments by helicopter or private jet that he could have reached by train or car. This included a helicopter flight to Oxford, just an hour’s train ride from London, and a flight on a Royal Air Force jet to play golf in Scotland. He is said to have burned up around 325,000 pounds (around 390,000 euros) on his decadent travels. Many more followed in the years that followed.

Sarah Ferguson and the wrong sheikh

In 2010 it was Sarah Ferguson again who made headlines and dragged her ex-husband into the abyss with her. The Briton was embroiled in a secret operation by News of the World, during which she got into a conflict with the newspaper’s undercover reporter, Mazher Mahmood, the so-called “Fake Sheik”. She is said to have promised to make contact with her ex-husband, who was the British special adviser for international trade and investment at the time, for the proud sum of 500,000 pounds (the equivalent of almost 600,000 euros). For phrases like “Take care of me and he will take care of you” or “I can open any door you want. And I will do that for you”, “Fergie” apologized after the scandal became public. She explained her “grave misjudgment” with her own difficult “financial situation”. The Duke of York “didn’t know about any of the discussions” and was “not involved,” she said after she returned the payment and offered to move out of the shared home with her ex-husband.

Happy Birthday, Princess Beatrice?

When it comes to friendly ties, Prince Andrew is on par with his ex-wife when it comes to poor judgment. The firstborn of the two had to find out when her father accepted a gift, a necklace worth 20,000 pounds (around 24,000 euros), from a Libyan arms smuggler on her 21st birthday. Entrepreneur Tarek Kaituni had previously been convicted of drug possession and attempted to smuggle a submachine gun into France. Nevertheless, in 2009 he was among the guests at Beatrice’s birthday party in a private villa near Marbella. Two years later, in 2011, the scandal came to light. Yet another was waiting to be discovered.

Sarah Ferguson, Princess Eugenie, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice in February 2003 in Verbier, Switzerland

Sarah Ferguson, Princess Eugenie, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice in February 2003 in Verbier, Switzerland

© UK Press / Getty Images

It was not until the end of 2019 that another misstep was uncovered, which Prince Andrew had made on the 18th birthday of his daughter Beatrice. Pictures published by “The Sun on Sunday” showed some of the illustrious guests of their party, which took place in 2006 at Windsor Castle: Jeffrey Epstein, † 66, Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, and Harvey Weinstein, 69. During Weinstein’s machinations at that time not yet reported had leaked, Epstein had been issued an arrest warrant for sexually assaulting a minor just two months before Beatrice’s birthday party. Andrew denied knowing about it. Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has now been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and serious sexual assault.

Prince Andrew + Jeffrey Epstein: A momentous friendship

His longstanding relationship with investment banker and multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein was to prove fatal for the Duke. The abuse scandal surrounding Prince Andrew has dominated the headlines for months. Virginia Giuffre, 38, claims in a trial in New York that the late Epstein and his former partner Maxwell made her a sex slave with other minors as a teenager and forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew at the age of 17 in 2001.

As early as 2019, the Duke gave up his royal duties due to the public allegations. It became known in October 2021 that Queen Elizabeth initially paid for her son’s court costs, but has now turned the money off. His attempts to stop the civil lawsuit against him failed. On January 12, 2022, a New York court ruled that Giuffre could sue the prince. A day later, on January 13th, Buckingham Palace announced that the Royal would be stripped of all military titles.

Sources used: tatler.com, washingtonpost.com, thesun.com

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