SARAH VINE: Duty: The real reason the Queen cut her beloved son Prince Andrew loose
‘It is not right and not fair that she should have to suffer this,’ SARAH VINE says of the Queen
I simply couldn’t understand why, having stuck by him this far, and especially in the wake of that disastrous Newsnight interview in 2019, she would withdraw her support like this.
After all, no one really thought his lawyers’ attempts to have the case thrown out would work. It was only ever going to be a legal long-shot, and Judge Kaplan’s ruling last week, while typically bombastic and headline-grabbing, was entirely expected.
Perhaps it had something to do with the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict. She has now given the green light for the identities of the eight ‘John Does’ cited in an earlier civil case brought against her by Virginia Giuffre in 2015 to be revealed.
There has been widespread speculation about the identity of these men, ranging from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump to a ‘well-known Prime Minister’.
The Queen leaves after attending the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in Cardiff in Ocotber
Given Prince Andrew’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, it is not inconceivable that his name could also be in the mix.
Then again, none of the men is accused of any wrongdoing, while Prince Andrew emphatically is.
So how could it make much of a difference? Was there, I wondered, some terrible photograph? Andrew has argued that the famous one of him and Giuffre, supposedly in Maxwell’s flat, isn’t real. I’ve always thought her arm looks squiffy and never put much stock in it because, even if it is genuine, what does it actually prove?
Just because two people are photographed together doesn’t mean there’s any intimacy between them, consensual or otherwise. I wondered if the Royal Family had had sight of something more obviously damning. My imagination ran wild with unsavoury visions, including that of the poor Queen having to confront the unimaginable. In reality, though, the truth is far less conspiratorial and complex.
There are two reasons why she has done what she has done, and both speak to her loyalty and duty to the crown she wears.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson driving from Royal Lodge, his residence in the grounds of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire
Firstly, the Armed Forces. Anger has been steadily growing among the ranks at the lack of judgment displayed by the Prince and the embarrassment he has caused. Word has been fed up the chain of command, in particular to Prince Charles and Prince William, and the displeasure has been made abundantly clear.
In particular, the Grenadier Guards were very unhappy about Andrew’s situation, which they largely saw as entirely self-inflicted, with officers saying they were ‘uncomfortable having to drink to the health of Prince Andrew at the end of regimental dinners’.
One senior veteran, former lance sergeant Julian Perreira, publicly called for him to step down from his ceremonial role in the regiment.
Most people perhaps don’t grasp how much of a Forces family the Royals really are, but the truth is, few things matter more to them than the men and women who lay down their lives in defence of the Crown.
The second factor is the Jubilee. The Queen sees this not so much as her celebration but as the entire nation’s celebration. One that, after all we’ve been through in the past few years, we all deserve to share in. Nothing can be allowed to overshadow it. And now nothing will.
And so the Queen has done what the Queen always does – that is to say, the hardest thing of all. She has, not for the first time in her long reign, put monarchy before motherhood and moved to protect not her own private feelings towards her son but the institution which she has guarded with such clear-sighted vision and grace all these years.
However much she knows this, I imagine it must still break her heart. A heart that, let’s face it, has already been pretty bruised and broken in recent months by the loss of Prince Philip.
But that is what makes her such a Queen for our times, such a beacon in this uncertain world.
They say that as a mother you are only ever as happy as your unhappiest child.
It is not right and not fair that she should have to suffer this.
Of all people, she really does not deserve it. But she will, as she always does, bear it with dignity and fortitude.
I’m all for cuddling the dog
Why is it offensive to ask people to save money on fuel bills by putting on an extra jumper? Ovo Energy has apologised for sending customers what was no doubt intended to be a light-hearted list of energy-saving tips such as snuggling up to your pet and eating ‘hearty’ bowls of porridge.
Given the prevailing climate of hysterical cancel culture, it quickly turned into a PR nightmare. But seriously: at what point did we become so spoiled we expect to live all year round at a constant 20 degrees?
I have my heating set at 18 degrees, and it comes on twice a day for a few hours. The rest of the time, if the kids complain – which they do, endlessly – I tell them to put more clothes on. And yes, to cuddle our dog Snowy – who, being somewhat on the chunky side, makes an excellent, albeit slightly windy, hot water bottle.
News of a drinks fridge being delivered to No 10 in December 2020 has prompted further fevered speculation about boozy Downing Street lock-ins. I’m as furious as the next person about all this, but there’s a difference between having a glass of something cold at your desk – which lots of offices do all the time – and having a full-blown knees-up. So yes, let’s condemn the breaking of rules if rules were broken. But let’s not turn into a nation of sour-faced prohibitionists.
First it was ski jackets, then Moon boots – now another dubious slopes-inspired fashion trend has emerged: stirrup leggings. Last popular in the 1980s, they feature a loop under the foot to stop them riding up. Victoria Beckham is a fan, and indeed you can buy a pair from her clothing collection (prices range from a mere £490 to around £800). Apparently they ‘look especially chic styled over a pair of point-toe pumps’. Or you could just cut a hole in a thick pair of tights…
Victoria Beckham is a fan, and indeed you can buy a pair from her clothing collection (prices range from a mere £490 to around £800)
Chelmsford has acquired the somewhat dubious accolade of being the Costa Coffee capital of the UK. I wish someone could explain to me the mystery of Costa Coffee. The brown gunk they serve is so unutterably disgusting, I cannot imagine how it survives, let alone thrives. Perhaps it’s just more proof we Brits have terrible taste.
Call me eloquent any time!
Is it offensive to call someone ‘eloquent’? Apparently so, according to Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal (Professor of Postcolonial Literature), who accused her colleague David Abulafia of insulting the TV historian David Olusoga by describing him as such in an article about the acquittal of the Colston statue vandals. The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘eloquent’ as ‘giving a clear, strong message’. Sounds like a huge compliment to me. Unless, of course, you’re someone who has forged a career out of finding offence in everything. Postcolonial Literature? How about Professor of How Very Dare You?
I completely agree with Bear Grylls when he says children who fail at school are often better equipped to deal with real life, and that measuring success purely in terms of academic achievement is one of the great problems with our education system. Like me, my daughter was never a straight-A student (dyslexia), but since she left school she’s the happiest I’ve known her. That sense of being a failure has turned to delight at the realisation that life is about so much more than being a success on paper. She’s finally free – and it’s such a joy to see.
Proposals to protect England’s national parks include a move to rename ‘areas of outstanding natural beauty’ – a term dating back to 1942 – with the infinitely duller ‘national landscapes’. Why change something just for the sake of it? I’d rather explore ‘outstanding natural beauty’ – especially when ‘landscapes’ could denote anything from a mountain to a slurry pit.
The person I feel most sorry for this week is poor Partygate investigator Sue Gray. If she finds Boris Johnson guilty, she’s toast. If she doesn’t, she’s also toast. She’s going to need a long holiday when all this is over.