Prince Charles arrived back in England on Monday after his tour of New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. The UK tabloids have been pushing the “showdown” narrative, as if Charles was going to make a beeline to Windsor to personally scream at Prince Andrew. Which might happen, who knows, but it doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Instead, Charles went directly to Sandringham to visit his father, Prince Philip, who has retired to Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate.
The Prince of Wales arrived at Sandringham yesterday to discuss the continuing fall-out from Prince Andrew’s disastrous television interview with his father. Charles headed straight to the Queen’s Norfolk estate after landing in the UK from an official tour of New Zealand and the Solomon Islands to visit the elderly royal. Philip, 98, spends most of his time at Wood Farm, a small residence on the estate nowadays and it is understood that the heir to the throne will spend several days with the increasingly frail prince.
Many courtiers feel that since the Queen’s husband, who used to rule his family with an iron fist, retired from public life, ‘discipline’ within the royal family has not been what it should be – hence Andrew’s virtually autonomous decision to go ahead with his disastrous Newsnight interview over his controversial friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. It’s is believed that Charles will seek his father’s counsel over what the family should do next as well as spend a few days together, enjoying each other’s company.
I wonder about this. I mean, I believe that Charles is spending a few days with his father and I don’t doubt that they’re discussing Andrew. But it feels like they’re probably discussing some other issues too, like…the Queen and her many failures this year, with the Andrew debacle only being the latest. There’s only so many times that people can claim that the Queen “didn’t know” or “she got hoodwinked” before people start to wonder if Her Maj just lives in a state of naive oblivion to what’s happening around her, and if that’s the case (hint: it is not), then why is she the g–damn unelected head of state? Speaking of, the Sun says Charles may use this Andrew catastrophe to insist that the Queen “retire” at 95.
If it wasn’t Prince Charles who actually pulled the trigger to sack wayward brother Andrew in the wake of the Epstein scandal, he certainly loaded the gun. It was left to the Queen to deliver the ultimate coup de grace last week, banning the Duke of York from royal duties, possibly forever. And the axing of her favourite son signalled what could be her last major act of a reign that is fast coming to a close with typical quiet dignity. Now Charles, as king-in-waiting, is the one effectively pulling the strings to protect the Crown.
His key role in Andrew’s brutal removal is the latest indication of a transition process from mother to son — from Charles as Prince of Wales to king and head of the firm — that has been happening for some time. The Queen is 93, and although sources say, officially, “regime change” and “regency” are banned words, there is a recognition that she cannot go on forever. Her Majesty will be 95 in 18 months — the age at which Prince Philip withdrew from public life — and there is renewed talk behind palace walls she will then as good as “retire”.
Gradually, while still being very hands-on, the Queen has cut down the amount of investitures she does, spending longer weekends at Windsor and reducing her public duties. In 2018 she completed 283 engagements, down from 332 in 2016, while Charles undertook 507. Charles has stepped up, the king in all but name. A well-placed royal source said: “Planning for Charles to become king has been going on for some time. A transition is plainly already underway. Her Majesty is in her nineties and can understandably only do so much…. The scandal surrounding Andrew and Epstein gave Charles an opportunity to step in to show that he can run The Firm. No one is bigger than the institution of the Royal Family. Not even Andrew, the Queen’s favourite son. Charles recognised that and acted decisively — like the king he may well soon be. This was the moment when Charles stepped up as Prince Regent, the Shadow King.”
I… agree with this? In the Andrew debacle, Charles was the one who knew what to do. Charles had a better handle on how Andrew’s actions and interview were a massive catastrophe for the royal family. For days before Charles had his mum deliver the “coup de grace,” the Queen was happy enough to order the courtiers and communications team to protect Andrew. That was HER instinct, to circle the wagons, to ride out the storm. She didn’t get it. I don’t think she gets it now.
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