Prince Harry decided it was not for him. Prince Andrew has been feuding with Prince Charles for influence ever since he turned 18. The Queen’s father was lucky – although he saw it more as a heavy burden – because he became King himself when his older childless brother abdicated. But what if you are the second son and you desperately want to carry on with your job of propping up the monarchy but your mere presence attracts more negative headlines than flies to honey?
This, in a nutshell, is the predicament of Prince Andrew after he spoke in detail about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on BBC Newsnight almost 12 months ago.
During the BBC interview Andrew strenuously denied any allegations against him. He has consistently done so ever since they first surfaced in 2011.
But it was Andrew’s comments on other issues that created a very bad odour.
Unwisely, Prince Andrew expressed no regrets during the interview about the friendship, except maybe in the vaguest possible way.
It attracted stringent criticism from many in the media. During the interview, the Prince also offered help to the FBI with its investigations into other participants in Epstein’s sex ring saying: “Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
It is a fact that almost a year on we still don’t know whether he has or has not shared any knowledge of his former friend with the FBI that has become the magnet of the increasingly strident criticism the prince attracts.
Earlier in the year, the Manhattan attorney leading the investigation said Andrew had “completely shut the door” on cooperation. However, the claim was resolutely rejected out of hand by the Prince’s lawyers.
A few months later, another twist followed nonetheless.
US Attorney General William Barr disclosed on Fox News in an extraordinary statement he had sent an official request under the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to Home Secretary Priti Patel, requiring her help in obtaining evidence from the Prince.
It appeared that Donald Trump’s administration agreed with the Manhattan attorney and had waved the confidentiality that is usually wrapped around such requests.
When Princess Beatrice married in July, the prince did not appear in his own daughter’s wedding pictures. Town and Country Magazine in the US wrote bluntly that it underlined that the prince ‘no longer belongs as a public face of the British monarchy’.
For some protesters, the question whether Andrew has or has not cooperated became a reason for focusing their horror at Epstein’s misdeeds on rallies in front of the gates of Buckingham Palace.