Prince Andrew wanted a comeback, but his family and the palace have ended that dream

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Prince Andrew, Duke of York, meets well-wishers outside Balmoral on September 10, 2022 in Aberdeen, United Kingdom. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by Owen Humphreys - Pool / Getty Images)
Prince Andrew meets well-wishers outside Balmoral on 10 September following the Queen's death. (Getty Images)

There was a moment earlier this year where Prince Andrew truly believed he was building the path towards a comeback.

Stripped of his titles and relegated to a retired life at home, sources tell me in early spring the prospectless Duke of York held a series of meetings with his lawyer and members of his team – all third party employees, since the Palace refuse to deal with him anymore – to discuss potential routes back into the public eye.

“Not that he ever thought he would be a working royal again,” a close source tells me, “but he did discuss creating duties of his own, through philanthropic efforts and being seen as the supportive son of the Queen… These would contribute to rehabilitating his image. Not as the Duke of York, but simply as a man who wanted to do good.”

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His return to a somewhat public role was also dependent on a continued proximity to his former position as a working royal. Though his military honours had been taken away and use of “HRH” banned, there was one role he had left at his disposal: Knight of the Garter.

The Duke of York walks behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown placed on top, as it is carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, during the ceremonial procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, London, where it will lie in state ahead of her funeral on Monday. Picture date: Wednesday September 14, 2022.
Prince Andrew looks set to remain out of the public eye after the Queen's death. (PA)
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall leave following the annual Order of the Garter Service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Picture date: Monday June 13, 2022.
Prince Andrew was notably absent from the annual Order of the Garter Service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in June. (PA)

Walking in the Garter Day procession in June—marking one of the most honourable orders of chivalry—would have put him front and centre once again. It was going to plan until, at the 11th hour, senior family members intervened, not wanting his presence to overshadow Camilla’s debut as Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter or bring further embarrassment to 'The Firm'.

We saw little of Andrew since that moment until a few weeks ago, when he adopted a visible role in the ceremonial proceedings following the death of the Queen. Thanking well-wishers outside Balmoral Castle, it was one of the few moments he genuinely had the right to be a part of.

“He would be sorely mistaken if he believes that might parlay into anything else,” a palace source explained to me last week. “He had every right to be part of each family event, but there was a conscious effort [behind the scenes]—within the institution and the family—to ensure he didn’t take advantage of the situation.” (Down to every last detail, including the optics of taking custody of the late monarch’s two dogs, which a York representative only named Sarah Ferguson in media briefings confirming the decision.)

Without the soft spot of the Queen at his disposal – it was no secret that Andrew was her favourite child, the door is now shut tighter than ever for the prince. Though King Charles III has sympathy for his brother, I’m told, the newly-minted sovereign will “never” allow him to set foot near the family business again.

So much so that Andrew may soon be stripped of his final link to the Crown—his role as a Councillor of State, which still allows the prince to deputise for the King should he be unable to work due to illness or absence abroad.

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 22:  Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew, Duke of York attend day 3 'Ladies Day' of Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2017 in Ascot, England.  (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew pictured in 2017. (Getty Images)

Last month, it was reported that Charles is considering rewriting the 85-year-old Regency Act to exclude non-working members of the Royal Family – meaning Andrew, Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice would be off the list.

There is every reason extra effort is going into ensuring Andrew remains out of sight. While his fall from grace began with his friendship with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and convicted trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, it crescendoed with his multi-million settlement to Virginia Giuffre after she filed a civil case alleging him of sexually assaulting her as a teenager.

Though he consistently denied the allegations, he also consistently showed little empathy towards the countless young women and girls whose lives were destroyed.

There is also speculation that Maxwell could try to reduce her 20-year prison sentence by becoming a government witness in any broader investigation into the social circle of Epstein, potentially thrusting Andrew into the limelight again.

andrew virginia
Prince Andrew pictured with a then 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell.

This week, a new documentary, Banished: Prince Andrew, reveals more details of Andrew’s life of bad decisions and “womanising”. Alongside suggestions that he was a sex addict, the production not only presents the eighth-in-line to the throne as a predator but also as a man who pursued a depraved friendship with Epstein and Maxwell so they could help him fulfil needs he was unable to satisfy elsewhere.

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I recently saw a preview and the archive interview with a masseuse who claims Andrew greeted her with the line, “Hey, nice a**. Do you take it up the a**?” is as stomach churning today as it was the first time around.

Whether any of this makes headlines in the British press will be another story altogether. Most newspapers seem to still be obsessively focused on stale tales about the Duchess of Sussexes’ supposed workplace “bullying” (the latest revelations still failing to provide any anecdotes or proof of said behaviour).

But whether the latest Andrew revelations get attention or not, none of this changes the bleak outlook for him. To the majority of the world, they will never see him as anything other than the man who continued a disturbing friendship with a convicted paedophile and paid out millions to an underaged rape accuser—and there’s no coming back from that.

Watch: Prince Andrew says he will miss Queen Elizabeth's advice and humour