Scandal in the palace
On November 20, 2019, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son Prince Andrew, Duke of York, released a formal statement on the royal family’s official website and announced, “I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.” So, what does this mean? Is it really just a polite way of saying that he got fired? And if so, fired from what exactly? Here’s the lowdown on Prince Andrew’s very public demotion.
Was Andrew fired?
The day after Andrew’s announcement, the New York Post published a story claiming that Andrew didn’t merely ‘step back’ or resign. Rather, he was fired – and by his mum, Her Majesty the Queen, no less. In business and in politics, it’s not unusual for a firing to be reframed as a voluntary resignation. Either way, the employee in question is out of a job. However, it’s relevant whether the employee has been afforded latitude to paint the circumstances as voluntary. After all, being fired conjures up images of an ambush ending with the employee being escorted out by security. Resignation, however, implies that even if the employee wouldn’t have chosen to leave, the employee was able to leave on his own terms.
On one hand, it’s probably safe to assume that Andrew would not have stepped back from his duties by choice. On the other, at least he wasn’t handed his head – whether metaphorically or literally. And as we’ll see below, there’s plenty of precedent for that in the royal family.
What led to his departure
In a word – or, rather, two – Jeffrey Epstein. “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” Andrew explained in his full statement. So, just who was Jeffrey Epstein? In case you missed the recent headlines, he was a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender who was arrested in the summer of 2019 on sex-trafficking charges; he died, allegedly of suicide, while in police custody. And there may be more to Andrew’s ‘stepping back’ than simply his ‘association’ with Epstein.