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have often said that the real problem with royal scandals is the fallout for the institution of the monarchy. The detail, the number of column inches the story occupied, the embarrassment caused even in these days of social media are mostly forgotten; the way the individual is perceived is not.

   It takes years of charm and selfless duty for the royals to earn the respect of the public – and only minutes to lose it. Scandals, especially of a sexual nature, provide a golden opportunity for newspaper editors, republicans and critics of the monarchy to have their say, and hang the consequences.

   Years ago Prince Charles prudently remarked that the monarchy had no power, only influence, and the influence it had was reliant on the respect people had for it. ‘Without respect,’ he said, ‘we have nothing’.

   This is the crux of the matter and why the Duke of York is doubly distraught. Not only were claims made in an American court by a woman who alleges she was forced to have sex with him while under age, but also the denials made by Buckingham Palace did little to stop the flow of controversy, which ran and ran.

   Andrew, who is 55 is on 19 February, was obliged to return from a skiing trip to face the repercussions, powerless to do anything other than retreat to his Windsor Great Park home. Perhaps fortunately, the Queen was still in residence at Sandringham, although she is always supportive of her second son, who had already assured her the allegations were untrue.

   It doesn’t help the Duke’s cause that he has a penchant for louche company and holidays on billionaires’ yachts, but he is loyal to the last, although naive about people and blinkered by privilege. In 2011 teetotal Andrew had to sacrifice his job as international trade envoy over the same scandal and his association with American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender. Now it has returned to haunt him and jeopardise the positive things he has been doing of late.

   Difficult though it is for some to comprehend in the 21st century, the British royal family seldom make public statements about personal matters, with a few notable exceptions. During a television appearance in 1985 Princess Michael of Kent spoke of her discovery that her father had been a wartime SS officer. The late Diana, Princess of Wales gave the now infamous BBC Panorama interview in 1995, and during a press briefing in 2000 about his gap year Prince William referred to Patrick Jephson’s book on his time as Diana’s private secretary as a ‘betrayal’.

   ‘Our mother’s trust has been betrayed and even now she is still been exploited,’ he announced to the journalists and TV reporters assembled in his father’s Highgrove garden.

   The scandal surrounding the Duke of York will not go away, but for the Queen it is business as usual. On Her Majesty’s return to London she has a busy time ahead of her, including a state visit to the Federal Republic of Germany in June at the invitation of President Joachim Gauck, just a few days after her favourite – and busiest – week at Royal Ascot.


 
 
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