Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, has been absent from public view for an extended period due to his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the legal settlement involving Virginia Giuffre’s accusations of sexual abuse against him. Consequently, he has lost his royal roles and patronages and faced criticism from various quarters. However, a recent sighting of him in a car alongside the Prince and Princess of Wales on their way to a church service near Balmoral, the Royal Family’s summer retreat, has ignited speculation about a potential comeback or reconciliation with his family.
Royal commentator and modern monarchy history expert Anna Whitelock offers a pessimistic view on the possibility of Andrew’s return. She believes that the public is not ready for his reemergence, cautioning that it could be perilous for the Royal Family to attempt his rehabilitation.
Insiders have conveyed that there has been no change in Andrew’s status, and the car journey is not necessarily indicative of an olive branch. While he might attend a family event, it does not imply a resumption of his royal duties. Even Prince William, second in line to the throne, has reportedly opposed Andrew’s public appearances, to the extent of threatening to withdraw from events if he were present.
Despite vehemently denying any wrongdoing, author and historian Sir Anthony Seldon insists that any potential comeback for Andrew would necessitate a display of remorse and contrition. He contends that an early return, lacking genuine humility and thorough explanations for past controversies, could irreparably damage his prospects for rehabilitation and further harm the monarchy.
Gideon Benaim, head of the reputation protection team at law firm Simkins, acknowledges the challenge of restoring Prince Andrew’s image. He notes that the public’s perception of Andrew has plummeted, and few are willing to consider or accept his rehabilitation. Benaim underscores the importance of demonstrating genuine contrition, humility, and a commitment to learning from past mistakes, citing the example of politician John Profumo, who redeemed his reputation through years of quiet charity work.
Prince Andrew may aspire to resume his royal duties, but it appears he faces a daunting journey towards regaining the trust and respect of the public. For now, he remains somewhat of an “invisible man” within the Royal Family.