For a man who has so long been in the spotlight, the Duke of York was ill prepared for his TV grilling

Earlier this year and late last year the News Letter, which is the oldest English language daily in the world, serialised its first surviving editions from 1738 and 1739.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 12:50 am
News Letter editorial

A striking feature of those early papers is the royal coverage, which is not that different to the appetite for royal news in the media today.

There are regular reports on the then king, George II, his estranged son the Prince of Wales, and the nearly born infant princes, including George who would ultimately become George III. There was public interest in the princesses too.

In recent decades, Prince Andrew, who gave a remarkable interview to BBC Newsnight that was broadcast on Saturday evening, was a key member of a new generation of royals.

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His wedding to Sarah Ferguson in the 1980s, a few years after the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer, ushered in a new era of a seemingly unstuffy, pop music loving young royals who were full of laughter and fun and were much in the gaze of a media that they tolerated, perhaps even courted.

Those marriages sadly ended in divorce, and the press was accused of inflicting misery on the younger royals as a result of its relentless scrutiny and pursuit of them.

Yet a curious feature of the Duke of York’s rather grisly BBC interview was how ill prepared he seemed for a man who has so long been in the spotlight. This is perhaps because Emily Maitlis’s polite but relentless grilling of the Queen’s second son on his relationship with the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, and his interaction, if any, with Epstein’s teen girls, broke new ground in its underlying lack of deference.

For all the complaints of Harry and Megan about media intrusion, that lack of deference is here to stay.

Prince Andrew has had a privileged life. With that has long come responsibility, accepted without complaint by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh into their 90s. It now comes with answerability too. The royals might need time to adjust, but it is a good thing that should help the monarchy survive.