Admiral Fail Son: The Spectator sticks up for Prince Andrew while the funeral fiasco begins.

Royal reporters reveal once again that they're best at writing fan fiction.

I could pretend that, like noughties retro rock stylists The Hives, I hate to say I told you so, but the truth is it’s one of my favourite things. And, just as predicted in an earlier newsletter, the British media is trying to find a way to bring unrepentant Epstein pal and FBI interview dodger, Prince Andrew, back into public life. And, of course, one of the most blatant examples comes from Britain’s premier racism fanzine The Spectator.

Under the headline, The royal redemption of Prince Andrew, former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt, who cannot shake his addiction to talking about Britain’s sub-par alternative to the Kardashians, writes:

Seventeen months is clearly long enough, as far as Prince Andrew is concerned, to spend in the royal wilderness. While mourning the passing of his father, he’s made tentative steps to reclaim his position as one of the public faces of the House of Windsor. His private status, close to his mother, has never been under threat.

His first act, on this path to redemption, was an audacious one. He gave a television interview. Emily Maitlis was nowhere in sight and it passed off without incident. Indeed, it generated positive headlines with his account of how the Queen had described the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh as 'having left a huge void in her life'. Andrew also told reporters Prince Philip was a 'remarkable man' and he 'loved him as a father'.

Well, “audacious” is certainly one word you could apply to Andrew’s dewy-eyed dramatics outside the church. Another would be “brazen”. And the fact that the Prince’s “private status, close to his mother, has never been under threat”, indicates not just his favourite status but the rotten nature of the whole institution. In a normal family, the matriarch might just be more than a little unsettled if her son was accused of raping an underage trafficking victim.

At least Hunt, free from the constraints of the BBC’s royal brown-nosing protocols notes that:

A grieving son was back representing the Firm. Conveniently, some of the subsequent coverage carried his comments about his mother and made no reference to the way he had been forced to step down from royal duties over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender, and after his disastrous Maitlis interview on BBC Newsnight in November 2019.

He goes on to note in the kindest terms possible that Andrew has placed himself in the centre of a circle of sycophants:

Since Prince Philip died, his son has been dipping his toes in the waters of rehabilitation. He’s surrounded himself with people who tell him it’s deliverable. He’s desperate to return. 

To return to what? A life of pretending to help the UK trade while glad-handing tyrants and despots? Of golf and galumphing around acting like he understands startups? Or of even worse if the allegations around his Epstein excursions are true? Prince Andrew is the purposeless and pernicious in search of purpose and he has none. He is the starkest example of the black hole at the heart of the monarchy, the gold paint flaking from the edifice of ‘majesty’.

Hunt — though he is perfectly free to make a moral judgement — refuses to do so on the subject of Prince Andrew’s slippery refusal to be interviewed by the FBI. He continues:

… there’s at least one significant impediment in his way. He promised, when he stepped down, to help the FBI with their Epstein investigation. This is still an outstanding matter, after 17 months. Andrew wants to write to them. The investigators want to see the whites of a prince’s eyes.

What is stopping Prince Andrew, a man who assures us of his innocence, from being interviewed? Might it be that despite his current obsession with admirals’ uniforms, the outfit that’s really on his mind is an orange jumpsuit?

The mini-scandal known as ‘uniformgate’ — how original and not-at-all lazy — is instructive. It reveals a great deal about the Prince’s suppurating ego and self-regard. The Duke of York is currently a Vice-Admiral, a rank he earned not through service but simply because he emerged from the magic vagina.

In 2009, the Royal Navy adopted a pusillanimous policy of automatically gifting Prince Andrew with promotions every five years in line with his peers who did not leave the service to ponce of the public instead.

His last serving rank was Lieutenant-Commander but he was gifted the status of Commander when he retired in 2001. He was made an Honorary Captain in 2005, bumped up to Rear Admiral in 2010 and Vice-Admiral in 2015. Now he’d told his tailor that he wanted to cosplay as an Admiral at his father’s funeral.

The Times has been particularly guilty of giving Prince Andrew an easy ride over the issue. One of its royal reporters, Valentine Low, is bylined on both an article reassuring readers that Andrew ‘is not going to exploit Prince Philip’s deathand a later piece concluding that the ‘No uniform’ rule at Prince Philip’s funeral spares Prince Harry’s blushes.

Harry — who served in Afghanistan — has not indicated that he was remotely embarrassed by the prospect of not wearing military uniform at his grandfather’s funeral. However, multiple sources have talked about Prince Andrew’s tantrums around titles and finery. So who exactly is the one who is embarrassed and embarrassing?

When Low wrote that…

Sources close to the Duke of York have dismissed suggestions that his prominence in the days following the death of Prince Philip has given him hope that he will one day be able to make a comeback to public life. One who knows the duke well said he would not see it as “respectful” to capitalise on his father’s death in such a way.

… it was hard not to conclude that those “sources” were all Prince Andrew wearing one of his many silly hats.

The next tick in the tick-tock of stories taking us towards Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday is a confected controversy over the plan for William and Harry’s cousin Peter Philips walking between them in the procession.

The Times story, again bylined to Low, says:

The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex will walk behind their grandfather’s coffin at his funeral on Saturday. They will, however, be separated by the diplomatic presence of their cousin.

The brothers, whose fractured relationship has not recovered since their last awkward encounter at Westminster Abbey a year ago, will be among the nine members of the royal family who will process on foot as the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin is driven on a Land Rover to St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

The implication is that the princes are like warring football fans and Peter Philips is a weary copper keeping them apart, rather than, you know, another grandson there to pay tribute to his grandfather.

Of course, The Times’ salacious stablemate The Sun applies even more topspin, headlining its story Brother’s At Arm’s Length, adding “Queen rules Harry and Wills won’t stand together at Philip’s funeral”, continuing:

Warring William and Harry will be apart for all 70 minutes of Prince Philp’s funeral tomorrow. The Queen has approved plans which mean they will not stand shoulder to shoulder for the coffin procession.

Never mind that the pair didn’t even stand “shoulder to shoulder” during the procession at their mother’s funeral.

The paper also includes another story on ‘uniformgate’ — seemingly spuriously combining Harry not wearing military dress with Andrew’s assumptions. It headlines the piece, which relies heavily on tweets by Peter Hunt, with the line UN-SUIT-ABLE Prince Harry and Andrew’s ‘shameful tantrums’ over uniform for Philip’s funeral ‘unhelpful’ for Queen, say experts

As so often with stories about Prince Harry in particular but royal ‘spats’ in general, The Sun article includes no details on his so-called ‘tantrum’, not even the familiar quotes from ‘sources’. The Sun’s political editor (and patron of Britain’s cuckold community) Harry Cole got in on the act:

The ‘humiliation’ has been projected and promoted by the tabloids and the wider British media. Prince Harry has, as you might expect, not said a word on his feelings about the funeral frocks.

The Telegraph’s take on what I can only assume will soon be dubbed ‘processiongate’ is delivered by its resident royal obsessive Camilla Tominey, who writes:

The Duke of Cambridge will not walk shoulder to shoulder with the Duke of Sussex at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, with the two being separated by Peter Phillips. Seemingly in recognition of ongoing tensions between them, the royal brothers will flank their older cousin as they walk in a procession behind their grandfather's coffin from the State Entrance of Windsor Castle to the West Steps of St George's Chapel on Saturday.

The word “seemingly” is doing a lot of work there and highlights how — as with most royal coverage — this story is a work of fanfiction rather than reporting. A royal spokesperson is quoted in the piece with a line that I wish Tominey and her hearse-chasing colleagues would take to heart but which I know they never will:

This is a funeral – we're not going to be drawn into those perceptions of drama or anything like that…

Of course, The Daily Mail delivers the most unhinged coverage of the non-story about where and when the princes will walk. Bylined to four people, its article carries the headline Queen orders Harry and William to walk apart behind Prince Philip's coffin: Feuding brothers will not stand together at Her Majesty's request as full funeral details are revealed and includes the following not-at-all batshit graphic of just how they’ll walk during the funeral:

Imagine Reservoir Dogs but recast with bad actors from the same bad family.

The Royal Family is ludicrous and so stripped of whatever ‘majesty’ monarchy once held that its constant promotion by the British media is like being hectored by a bloke trying to shift knock-off Rolexes in a pub car-park — the watch looks shit, the brand is old-fashioned, and the bloke sounds delusional.

It was inevitable that Prince Andrew, bored of pretending to even be remotely contrite, would attempt to sidle back into public life. It was also inevitable that parts of the British media would seek to aid him. None of that will stop once Prince Philip is in the ground. Andrew will continue to duck justice while begging for all the baubles and trinkets to which he believes he is entitled.

After the funeral, we’ll be ‘treated’ to even more guff about the next generation of the monarchy and its renewal. Alongside stories ‘analysing’ every glance and fart of the funeral proceedings, using photos chosen precisely because the facial expressions fit a pre-written narrative, we’ll be told that the ceremony has put the Royal Family back at the heart of the nation and that William will ‘retool’ it for the 21st century. The same old shit we’ve been sold over and over again.

Andrew may not have been allowed to play dress up this times but that admiral’s uniform will appear eventually. He’s going to be prancing around and ducking justice for the rest of his life. And as Prince Philip demonstrated, the good die young but royals hang around for a long time.