Prince Andrews interview proves Charles is right to want slimmed-down monarchy without hangers-on like Harry and Meghan

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THE Duke of York’s disastrous BBC interview will go down as a humiliating low point in the history of the Royal Family.

Throughout the interview with Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew came across as thick, naive and self-righteous, as he mounted a bizarre defence of his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Andrew’s interview was not so much a car crash as a train wreck

The fallout from the catastrophe is accelerating, with companies like KPMG queuing up to withdraw sponsorship from the Prince’s causes, and further Epstein accusers – such as Jane Doe 15 – coming forward to demand that Andrew provides testimony.

The Duke’s toe-curling, cringe-making interview came just weeks afterTom Bradby of ITV, a close friend of the younger Windsors, interviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the end of their South African tour.

Given the apparent success of the trip, this should have been a public relations triumph.

But it turned into a calamity, due to the couple’s hysterical self-pity and determination to moan about the pressures on them.

The royal mounted a bizarre defence of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein
Epstein accuser “Jane Doe 15”, not her real name, has called for the Duke to speak to the FBI

Just as Maitlis’s interview reinforced all the doubts about Prince Andrew’s personal conduct, so the Bradby interview strengthened the public image of Meghan and Harry as a pair of globe-trotting, over-privileged whingers who want the status and subsidies of royalty without the responsibilities.

In the wake of all the recent scandals and controversies about these Royals who realistically will never inherit the Crown what is the point of all the expense lavished on them?

In view of either their incapacity or their reluctance to perform their roles with dignity, is it time for a drastically slimmed-down monarchy, one that focuses solely on the Sovereign and her immediate heirs?

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview turned into a calamity
The fallout from Prince Andrew’s catastrophic interview is accelerating

Pointless expense lavished on minor Royals

That is precisely what the Prince of Wales has advocated for years so that the Royal Family would consist essentially of the Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, plus the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.

Indeed, the scene on Buckingham Palace balcony during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations gave a clear vision of a trimmed-down monarchy.

And Prince Charles has already angered his brother Andrew by insisting on the withdrawal of Royal protection from Eugenie and Beatrice.

The likes of Andrew and Harry would not welcome their exclusion from the inner circle but such a step might actually do them some good.

They would be forced to come out of their cocoon of privilege, bankrolled by the British public, and earn their own living like most citizens.

That would lessen their naivety and self-absorption.

A slimmed-down monarchy on Buckingham Palace balcony during Diamond Jubilee celebrations
The line of succession to the British throne

The damage is done

The aim of both royal interviews was to win public sympathy, or at least understanding, but they achieved the exact opposite. Most viewers will only have been alienated by all this grievance-filled, excuse-making exposure.

The Dukes of York and Sussex should have heeded the famous words of the Victorian political writer Walter Bagehot, who urged that the monarchy should not “let daylight in upon the magic.”

But the damage is done.

Now that the House of Windsor has been dragged into the glare of public scrutiny, there are justifiable questions about the purpose and cost of the minor Royals like Harry, Andrew and his daughters Eugenie and Beatrice.

There are justifiable questions about the purpose and cost of the minor Royals like Andrew and his daughters Eugenie and Beatrice

Harry happier in the armed forces

It is telling that both Harry and Andrew seemed happier, more fulfilled when they were in the armed forces, giving them a real sense of purpose.

This could happen again if they had proper jobs, perhaps in education or the voluntary sector.

There would be an additional benefit for Harry and Meghan, who both apparently yearn to bring up a young family away from the spotlight. Dropping the burden of their full Royal status would give them the chance to do so.

Meghan and Harry both apparently yearn to bring up a young family away from the spotlight

Opponents of change would argue that the minor Royals do a lot of good for charities and the promotion of our country.

Indeed, at the weekend, defenders of Prince Andrew pointed to his “remarkable” work for British trade and his involvement with around 200 charitable organisations but this is a dodgy argument.

Royals’ hypocrisy over good causes

Much of this activity could easily be done by celebrities or other public figures. After all, other advanced democracies in Europe and North America manage successfully without platoons of expensive royals.

So often, Royal patronage involves nothing more than a name on headed paper.

Moreover, there can be an element of hypocrisy about the causes that some royals promote, as highlighted by Meghan and Harry’s offensive lectures about the need to protect the environment while they regularly indulge in travel by private jet.

The appointment of the Duke of York as British trade envoy in 2001 was particularly dubious. It was a position for which he was unqualified having had no commercial experience after spending most of his adult life in the navy.

Prince Charles, seen with Camilla, has already angered his brother Andrew by insisting on the withdrawal of Royal protection from Eugenie and Beatrice

If we want to preserve the monarchy, it has to change

Yet we have to pay for the antics of the minor royals no matter how damaging.

The Queen, whose life has been dedicated to faithful service, represents tremendous value for money. But the same cannot be said for all her relatives and their hangers-on.

Even on official figures, public funding from the Sovereign Grant comes to 82.2 million this year. Expenditure from this grant is up by no less than 41 per cent compared to the previous year.

This sum includes 23 million on staff in the Royal household, of whom three senior officials receive packages worth over 155,000-a-year.

But the real cost could be far higher.

The anti-monarchy pressure group Republic puts the total bill for the Royal Family – including items such as security – at 345 million per year.

If we want to preserve the monarchy, it has to change. The behaviour of Prince Andrew should be the cue for a new leaner approach.

It used to be common to laugh at the austere, bicycling royal families of continental Europe. But now thanks to the Dukes of York and Sussex, the joke is on us.

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