Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has no future in the British monarchy. On Thursday January 13, the Queen officially stripped her second oldest son of all his honorary military appointments and his royal patronages. The Duke will also not be allowed to use HRH in any official capacity. Andrew appears to be the latest victim of the curse of the spare, much like his nephew Prince Harry.
Being a royal spare is not easy. Through just an accident of birth and birth order, the spare has the unique distinction of being so close to the crown and yet never having it fall upon their shoulders. At least, that’s what it’s like in modern times.
Throughout most history, an exceptionally ambitious spare could dispose their older sibling, cousin, uncle, etc. and just take the throne. Sometimes, the heir just dies and a spare suddenly elevated, which is actually what happened to King Henry VIII when his brother Prince Arthur unexpectedly died.
In the life of the spare, productive ones could impress by utilizing their time and energies becoming an accomplished military leader or artist.
But modernity has taken some of the fun out of being a spare.
Though we now have running water and electricity, a royal spare really has nothing to do but stand behind his or her brother or sister and not make a fuss. If they can do that, a spare can enjoy the perks of being the King/Queen’s child and sometimes become even more popular than the more studious and sometimes stuffier heir, a distinction Prince Harry once held back in 2019.
However, it’s exactly that freedom that can land a spare in trouble, and that’s what’s happened with Prince Andrew.
Since 2015, the Duke of York has been battling claims that he had sexual relations with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, who was part of businessman and pedophile Jeffery Epstein’s haram. At the time, the young woman would have been a minor and technically a pseudo prostitute under Epstein’s employ who alleges that Epstein ordered her to have sex with the prince.
Now, this case is going to civil court where Andrew could stand to pay millions in his defense and millions more if he loses the case.
The Queen, with her hand somewhat forced by Prince Charles and Prince William, had no choice but to act.
After a meeting at Windsor Castle, the palace released a brief statement: “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Reportedly her favorite son, the fall of the Duke of York, a title her beloved father once held, is likely a difficult blow after a challenging year.
It was only in 2020, that Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle announced Megxit, their decision to trade the glare of the British tabloids for that of the Hollywood press.
A year after Megxit, they too were also stripped of their royal patronages and Harry his coveted honorary military appointments. The couple were also barred from using HRH (His or Her Royal Highness) in 2020, though they still technically retain the title.
The decision to strip Andrew and Harry of those honors was deserved—however, it raises several incredibly complex and interesting questions. Is this where it ends? Will their titles the Duke of York and Duke of Sussex also be removed? Will the threat of stripping titles help keep errant royals in line?
And, more specifically, how will this potentially impact the next male spare, the young, precious and precocious Prince Louis?
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are no doubt looking on this entire situation in horror. Where did it all go wrong for the Queen and Charles, they probably wonder? How can we keep our son from going down the same path?
Only time will tell, but it really does seem like Prince William and Catherine are trying to truly break the generational curse of the male spare.
The Cambridge children are being raised in a relatively normal environment, with an incredibly loving and deeply connected family unit. There is no acrimonious divorce or disastrous relationship, nor a mother who has deep psychological issues (Princess Diana, for all of her talents and compassion, likely had something like borderline personality disorder).
They see their Middleton relatives frequently, including Pippa’s children Arthur and Grace, and their royal cousins as well, Savannah, Isla, Mia, Lena, Lucas, August and Sienna. Warm interactions show that they spend time with Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall as well.
The children will no doubt struggle with a feeling of arrogance and superiority, they are royalty after all, but the Cambridge’s, by all appearance, are strikingly normal.
Prince Louis may be the next to inherit the mantle the Duke of York, and perhaps he can give it back some of its gravitas. His parents have alluded to the idea that they are trying to prepare their younger two children to get a career, which they should do if they are able.
Like anything in life, it’s what you make of your lot that’s the most important. Royalty doesn’t change that.
Princes Andrew and Harry abused the system that they were born into in order to enrich themselves and seemingly, in the Duke of York’s case, engage in some potential criminal activity.
This must end, if the monarchy is to survive.
As Camilla Tominey of The Telegraph deftly pointed out: “In dethroning the Duke of York, the 95-year-old monarch has once again reminded her subjects that no one is bigger than the institution that she has stalwartly served for nearly seven decades.”
That’s why the two most notable spares have been stripped of almost everything. If the situation continues further, no doubt their Dukedoms could be next.