Another week, another Prince Andrew controversy – the disgraced Royal can’t catch a break.
Now, it arises that the records regarding the Duke of York’s work as UK Trade Envoy are sealed until 2065. Yes, you read it right.
A basic tenet of History is: ‘If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday’. And that’s what British biographer Andrew Lownie tried to do.
Author of ‘The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves’, and ‘Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’, Lownie is now working in a biography of Prince Andrew that is sending shivers up the spine of ‘the Firm’ (how the Royal Family calls itself).
The author asked for a full list of who joined Andrew on his business trips as Trade Envoy, as well official communications relating to his travel arrangements. It was a no-go.
The ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ will not face any public scrutiny unless he lives to be 105 years old.
“The Duke of York’s correspondence with Ministers – including details of dealings as a trade ambassador – came to light in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the Foreign Office made by royal biographer Andrew Lownie.
Several requests were made by the royal expert seeking further information on numerous business trips – which were usually paid for by the taxpayer – taken by the Prince, now 63.”
Under normal rules, records from government departments are kept secret for up to 20 years. But a special dispensation is awarded to the Royal Family.
Lownie: “We are in the absurd position that Prince Harry can reveal the most intimate details of royal life from months ago for personal commercial gain and Royal households currently brief against each other, yet historians cannot look at files. Many questions remain about his role as trade envoy, a public appointment paid for by the taxpayer, and his associations with figures such as Jeffrey Epstein.”
Prince Andrew was forced to resign as UK’s special representative for trade and industry after being pictured with recently-freed, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Central Park, New York. Epstein had just been released from a 18-month sentence in Florida.
“It’s understood that normal rules state that government department records transferred to Britain’s National Archives in Kew are kept secret for 20 years, but that members of the royal family operate under a different policy.”
Lownie: “This culture of secrecy is often the default position. But I think possibly, they don’t want us to know who was on these delegations because there may have been people who really weren’t there to drum up trade for Britain, but were there as chums.
Prince Andrew had a public role with public money, and we have to know how he took on those public roles. He was a public servant as a trade envoy to promote British interests, but we’re not entitled to know his delegation.”
The Duke of York was forced to resign from official royal duties after settling a lawsuit with Virgina Giuffre in which she claimed she had been sex trafficked to him as a 17-year-old by Epstein.
Besides the unacceptable cloak of protection for Andrew, there is also the problem of neglecting history. After all, ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.