From sex scandals and family feuds to speculation about holiday plans, experts tell Fox News that the screaming headlines surrounding the royal family have run the gamut from salacious to downright staggering, but that not every royal is to blame.
Except of course for Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, struggled to defend himself during a disastrous interview with the BBC about his relationship with the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking.
On Wednesday, the Duke of York announced he’s asked the monarch, 93, if he can “step back” from his public duties.
Royal expert and author Leslie Carroll, author of “Royal Pains: A Rogues’ Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds,” told Fox News it’s undoubtedly a difficult time for Elizabeth, who is faced with one of the worst scandals for the royal family in its modern history.
“I feel a bit sad that at this stage in her life… the queen can never relax her hands on the reins of the monarchy and completely trust the younger generation to carry on,” Carroll told Fox News. “[She] is said to be ‘disappointed’ by Andrew… He’s always been a wild one, but he went off the rails by associating with Epstein, to begin with.
“The queen will continue to ‘neither complain nor explain’ because she was raised to do so; and with ‘duty first’ as a core belief,” Carroll continued. “[She]… needs to keep the country together as its moral spine, demonstrating the ‘there will always be an England’ sentiment that has kept Britain’s monarchy the longest-running show in history — still going after over a millennium.”
Royal historian and blogger Marlene Koenig told Fox News that Andrew’s brother Prince Charles, who is next in line for the throne, was involved in the decision to have the 59-year-old step back from public duties “for the foreseeable future."
“I think there is only so much that the queen can do,” Koenig explained. “Charles is the future king and he has been involved in all the conversations about Andrew. There is no doubt that his voice was heard in the decision to have Andrew step down as a working royal. I won’t be surprised if more decisions follow after he returns from New Zealand… We do not know how this story will end… more legal issues for Andrew? Or will he be further pushed gently into the good night?”
The shocking scandal comes shortly after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke out in a tell-all ITV documentary titled “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which follows their royal tour in southern Africa. It was there where Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle candidly expressed their frustrations with the intense media scrutiny surrounding their growing family.
A source close to the couple told The Sun they have chosen not to follow the queen’s tradition of celebrating the holiday at her Sandringham home. Instead, they will reportedly be spending Christmas with Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland.
This will also be the first Christmas for their firstborn Archie, who was born in early May and is the queen’s eighth great-grandchild.
“They need some time away to recharge and decide their plans for next year,” claimed the source.
Markle has since responded to several tabloid rumors that have plagued her time as a member of the royal family.
People magazine reported that her legal team filed papers on Nov. 11 in Markle's case against Associated Newspapers, which owns The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. The documents reportedly detail Markle's suit against the publisher.
According to the outlet, citing the court documents, among the rumors addressed is that Markle, 38, and Harry, 35, refurbished their home with expensive and unnecessary amenities in the name of making Frogmore Cottage family-friendly.
The filings also address the publishing of Markle's private letters to her father, claiming that it was edited heavily by the press.
Similarly, the documents refute claims that Markle dismisses her father's health concerns, explaining that she "has a long history of looking after her father’s welfare and trying to find solutions to any health problems,” as well as her alleged snubbing of him after he skipped her wedding to Harry.
“Harry and Meghan are an entirely different situation,” Koenig pointed out. “They have chosen to take time off with their son, visit Meghan’s mom and spend Christmas with her. Nothing wrong with that. At some point, the lawsuits will have final rulings and could bring about a real change in royal coverage if the Sussexes win their cases. Unlike Andrew, they have not done anything wrong.”
Rumors of an alleged feud between the Sussexes and the Cambridges have also rocked the palace. In the documentary, Harry hinted at the ongoing rumored rift between him and his older brother Prince William.
“Inevitably stuff happens,” Harry explained. “But we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment. I’ll always be there for him and as I know, he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but I love him dearly.
“The majority of stuff is created out of nothing,” added the royal. “As brothers, we have good days and we have bad days.”
Carroll said she doesn’t believe there was ever a rivalry between Markle and William's wife Kate Middleton.
“I’ve expressed my feeling about the Kate versus Meghan ‘rift’ in the past — that it’s largely been manufactured by the media,” she said. "Their backgrounds and careers prior to their respective marriages are not similar, other than that they are both college graduates… To expect them to be best friends is absurd… Let’s not forget that the same press tarnished [Princess] Diana and ‘Waity Katie,” who they have practically deified, now that they can craft a villainess in Meghan.”
Carroll also pointed out it’s not unusual for some members of the royal family to skip the festivities at Sandringham. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge previously spent the holidays with the Middletons in 2016 without causing a public scandal.
“Christmas at Sandringham is hardly a relaxing vacation,” she said. “Every hour is choreographed, in terms of what one is expected to eat, wear, and do. And public appearances, such as walking to church en famille, are an annual part of the holiday. Everyone is on show, even in front of each other, for several days. So it’s understandable if the Sussexes need a breather, and it's only equitable for them to spend some time with Meghan's mother.”
As for the brothers, Koenig shared that unlike their uncle Andrew, the siblings haven’t done anything wrong.
“William and Harry are on two different career paths, the former will be king after his father,” she said. “Harry, as a younger son, will support the Sovereign but will have a little more leeway in his — and Meghan’s — royal career.
“William and Harry would not be the first royal brothers to be at odds. The Queen’s father, King George VI, did not get along with all of his brothers, especially his older brother, Edward, the Duke of Windsor. It was Edward VIII’s abdication that led to George VI succeeding. Plenty of tension.”
Both royal experts agree that Andrew’s Epstein scandal is far from over despite the royals taking action after his excruciating interview attempting to defend himself. As for the British monarchy, they also felt it will continue to carry on.
“Members of the British royal family are not immune to family disputes,” said Koenig. “Unfortunately, the British tabloid press can exploit (and make worse) a situation with fabricated stories. In this case, Andrew is a disingenuous brat with a sense of entitlement [that] outweighs his respect for the monarchy. He has been hanging with shady people for years.”