The latest developments in the Prince Andrew saga have been dramatic. The Palace has stripped him of his Royal status and titles and says he’ll have to contest the legal case against him as a ‘private citizen’ – whatever that means.

Much has been said in the media about this. But two important reputation management points have been largely overlooked.


Firstly, many have praised the Queen’s decisiveness in her attempts to protect the Royal Family – and minimise the reputational damage in her Platinum Jubilee year.

Her actions were certainly swift. And to some extent they may shield the ‘institution’ from the fall-out to come, though I think that protection will be fairly minimal. Titles or no titles, he’s still the Queen’s son and there’s no escaping the impending embarrassment and threat to the Royal Family ‘brand’.

But what struck me most is how brutally Andrew, who insists he’s innocent, has been thrown under the royal carriage – and the negative message that sends out.

The abrupt removal of his status and terse accompanying Palace statement has created the unavoidable impression the Palace thinks he’s guilty.

If you look at it in the terms of a ‘normal’ firm, his boss sure isn’t standing by him. She hasn’t even suspended him pending investigation of the facts. Andrew has been unceremoniously fired.

In the short term, this seems to me to taint the Royal Family’s reputation more than the alternatives. But we don’t know what they know. Perhaps they’ve weighed it up and figured the short-term hit is necessary to mitigate the damage they suspect will follow.

Rather like some have said Andrew has ‘no good options’ for contesting the legal case, the Palace has no great options for protecting its reputation. Perhaps time will show they’ve taken the least-bad action.

Above taking advice

Secondly, information has emerged that sheds an interesting new light on Andrew’s disastrous Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis in 2019.

Many of his comments in the broadcast were so jaw-droppingly awful, I’d long suspected he’d rushed into the interview completely unprepared.

He claimed he stayed with Jeffrey Epstein in New York for four days – after Epstein’s conviction for sex offences – because “it was a convenient place to stay” and he was inclined to be “too honourable” … he talked about a social event being not a party but just “a straightforward shooting weekend” …. he showed no concern at any point for Epstein’s victims … he trivialised Epstein’s offences as “unbecoming” behaviour … and said he “still” did not regret his relationship with the man.

See this YouTube compilation of the worst parts of the interview!

But Maitlis has now published an article giving us a behind-the-scenes view. She describes how she had several meetings with Andrew before the interview, and he’d been extremely clear about what he wanted to say.

So, if it wasn’t a woeful lack of preparation and forethought, it must have been a complete absence of awareness of how his comments would come across – which in turn suggests he felt he was above the need for professional advice.

We already know his press secretary quit two weeks before as he’d warned against the interview but Andrew pressed ahead. Yet that gave Andrew plenty of time to get other support, which it appears he either didn’t seek or heed.

I don’t necessarily think it was a mistake for him to have done the interview at all. But, with so much at stake, I’m amazed he felt it appropriate to ‘go it alone’ instead of rehearsing his comments in meticulous detail and taking account of frank, objective feedback.

It’s a mistake I imagine Andrew now bitterly regrets.


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Image courtesy of the Open University


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