You have to be in a very deep, very specific type of predicament if you choose your dead father’s memorial service as an opportunity for career rehabilitation. But that’s Prince Andrew for you.
Eleven days ago, Andrew accompanied the Queen to Westminster Abbey, where the royal family had amassed to celebrate the life of Prince Philip. It was a moment that managed to play out in two completely different ways at exactly the same time. In one scenario, the world saw an imperfect man support his grieving, infirm nonagenarian mother in her greatest hour of need, and immediately forgave him for all his sins.
In the other scenario—the one that doesn’t exist exclusively within the confines of Andrew’s head—was a public-relations catastrophe that couldn’t help but trample over everything in its path.
Again, though, that’s Andrew for you. Time and time again, he has proved that he is in possession of the worst possible instincts about the world and his place in it. And this has been underscored by the new flurry of tiny scandals he has blundered into over the last few days.
Aside from the scorn over Andrew’s appearance at the memorial service, questions are now being raised about a number of payments that he received in late 2019. On November 6, just 10 days before the Newsnight interview that effectively cratered his life as a royal, Andrew held a Pitch@Palace event (think Shark Tank, but with worse teeth and weaker chins) at St. James’s Palace.
The winner of the event’s people’s-choice award was a Turkish banker named Selman Turk, who had just launched a new digital-banking platform.
Days later, Andrew received a payment of nearly $1 million from Turkish millionairess Nebahat Isbilen into his personal bank account. Isbilen claims that she was told by her financial adviser to send the money, to help speed along her application for a U.K. passport. That adviser’s name? Selman Turk.
He is in possession of the worst possible instincts about the world and his place in it.
Isbilen is currently suing Turk for allegedly defrauding her out of almost $50 million, while Turk denies any wrongdoing. As for the money deposited into Andrew’s account? Turk claims that it was simply a series of gifts: some to Andrew, some to Princess Eugenie, a donation to pay for Sarah Ferguson’s 60th-birthday party, and an almost million-dollar wedding present for Princess Beatrice. Andrew reportedly paid back the money after Isbilen’s lawyers contacted him. But the same cannot be said for Ferguson—she has no plans to return her gift, since she maintains it was a fee for her work as a “brand ambassador.”
Then, just to make the whole shebang even grubbier, it has since emerged that Turk currently lives in a multi-million-dollar Mayfair apartment owned by the Queen. And Andrew was introduced to Turk by Tarek Kaituni, a man who was once convicted of trying to smuggle a submachine gun from the Netherlands to France. Unsurprisingly, Andrew is now facing calls to explain his side of the story, which is the last thing he needs on top of everything else.
Still, at times like this, when the whole world seems to be against you, you can always fall back into the warm embrace of social media. Well, Andrew can’t, because he was forced to shut his profiles down in January, after being outed as a liability so enormous that he threatened the future of the monarchy itself. But Ferguson still has an Instagram account, which Andrew hijacked this week to post a long, rambling 700-word essay about the Falklands War, which he flew a helicopter in. This, coincidentally, was the last time in human history that people actually thought anything of him.
Such is Andrew’s affinity for catastrophe that he appears to have initiated one of the most excruciating royal missteps in the last 50 years. A new Netflix documentary has alleged that Prince Charles once sought public relations advice from Jimmy Savile, a British television presenter who was posthumously discovered to have sexually abused hundreds of women and children—some as young as two.
What led Prince Charles to seek out such a monster? Why, the time that Andrew visited Lockerbie, the small Scottish town that was devastated when terrorists detonated a bomb in a plane above it, and sniffed, “I suppose statistically something like this has got to happen at some stage.”
Nevertheless, he couldn’t even do that correctly. In the post, Andrew referred to himself as “HRH The Duke of York,” even though he was stripped of the right to use that title during the Virginia Giuffre lawsuit. His sign-off was quickly changed, and then the post disappeared entirely without explanation. It’s little wonder that Prince Charles and Prince William are keen to push him all the way out of royal life.
You might think that having to delete something you wrote on your ex-wife’s Instagram account for using a title that your mother stripped you of, weeks after she had to bail you out of a court case in which you were accused of sexually assaulting a minor, is the height of humiliation. But, once again, that’s Andrew for you. His next scandal is almost certainly on the horizon.
Stuart Heritage is a Kent, U.K.–based Writer at Large for AIR MAIL and the author of Bedtime Stories for Worried Liberals