The late Queen gave Prince Andrew her blessing to use his HRH title in a private capacity after he was ostracised from public life and had his royal patronages stripped away at the height of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, it has been revealed.
Queen Elizabeth II agreed her son could use the title behind closed doors despite the opposition of palace aides – and he is said to now want the privilege back.
The Duke of York has long been angry at his loss of reputation following allegations he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, who was groomed by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, given that he has never been found guilty in a court of law.
Since the death of his mother he is said to be pushing the King for the return of some of his privileges – including the ability to use the HRH title.
Prince Andrew is said to want the return of his HRH title, after the Queen allowed him to use it in private, despite having publicly stripped him of the privilege last year
King Charles is said to be resisting his brother’s requests in order to avoid causing yet more trouble for the monarchy
Andrew is perplexed as to why he cannot use the title – despite being officially told by the Queen not to use it last year
Prince Andrew, 62, was extremely close with the late Queen Elizabeth, who became one of his most ardent supporters when he was accused of having sex with Ms Giuffre on several occasions.
The King has held meetings with his brother to discuss the issue, and has even made some concessions to allow the Duke to pursue his own business concerns, the Telegraph reports.
At Christmas he was able to join the family on the traditional walk to church at Sandringham, after being very visibly in the public eye during the family’s mourning last year.
A source told the Daily Mail this week Andrew is perplexed as to why he cannot use the title – despite being officially told by the Queen not to use it last year.
They said it is likely the Duke will ‘start using it again in a low-key way to test the waters – should he get the King’s consent.’
But King Charles is said to be resisting his brother’s requests in order to avoid causing yet more trouble for the monarchy.
It comes at a time of great turbulence for the royal family, after opinion polls showed all members of the family are now less popular than before the release of Prince Harry’s bombshell memoir Spare.
Prince Andrew’s request follows his ex-wife being unexpectedly welcomed back into the fold in recent months.
The turn in fortune for the Duchess of York – which would have been unthinkable if Prince Philip, or indeed the Queen, were still alive – has come after Sarah found a powerful advocate in Camilla.
A source said: ‘Camilla likes Sarah. They’re both gentry. They share a love of horses and Fergie will be smart enough to play the game with Camilla and realise she is the power behind the King. That she must be nice to them and support them.’
The connection was reinforced over Christmas after Fergie was, surprisingly, welcomed to join the family for the traditional celebrations at Sandringham.
For years, her ex-husband Prince Andrew would take their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to the celebrations, leaving Sarah out in the cold. This year, however, the Duchess was a guest not only for Christmas lunch, but also the following day’s shoot.
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip (left), Prince Andrew (second right) and Prince Harry (right) pictured at Ascot in 2016
Sarah Ferguson still lives with Andrew, but up until this year Andrew would take their daughters to celebrate Christmas with the Royal family alone
The Duchess of York has finally been accepted back into the fold at the behest of Camilla, sources say
She’s been persona non grata among the Royals for years – but the Duchess Of York has unexpectedly been welcomed back into the family fold
It’s notable that the Boxing Day event was traditionally organised by Prince Philip, who would have blanched at the idea of inviting the Duchess.
She was ‘beyond the pale’ as far as Philip was concerned, according to his biographer Gyles Brandreth, and ‘vulgar, vulgar, vulgar’ as one courtier memorably said.
But The Mail on Sunday understands that both the Duke and Duchess of York – divorced but still living together – were not only invited to all the Christmas celebrations, they were even given the use of Philip’s former home, Wood Farm, during their stay. The cottage on the Sandringham Estate was where Philip spent his retirement, pottering about after fitting it out with a new kitchen and updating the heating.
For the Yorks to be granted the use of the property raised eyebrows in some quarters, but the move signals a considerable thawing of relations within the family.
A source said: ‘Camilla likes Sarah. They’re both gentry. They share a love of horses and Fergie will be smart enough to play the game with Camilla and realise she is the power behind the King. That she must be nice to them and support them’
The Mail on Sunday understands that both the Duke and Duchess of York – divorced but still living together – were not only invited to all the Christmas celebrations, they were even given the use of Philip’s former home, Wood Farm (pictured), during their stay
‘There was Fergie, in the thick of it, chatting away to the King and Queen Consort on the Boxing Day shoot,’ the source said. ‘Philip would never have allowed that’
‘There was Fergie, in the thick of it, chatting away to the King and Queen Consort on the Boxing Day shoot,’ the source said. ‘Philip would never have allowed that.
‘There’s a feeling that, no matter what Sarah’s personal faults – and she can be like Marmite in that respect – she has been a good mother to the girls and loyal to Andrew.’
The Royal Family has not forgotten the ‘toe-sucking’ pictures of Fergie, taken when she was on holiday with her Texan tycoon lover, nor the way in which she offered access to Andrew in exchange for cash and was caught in a newspaper sting. But while she may have been an embarrassment, Fergie has never sought to damage the Monarchy.
The thawing of relations with the 63-year-old Duchess, aides say, is indicative of a seismic shift in the family, led by the new Queen Consort. Camilla has taken over the Queen’s old rooms at Sandringham and both she and the King would prefer it to be run as a relaxed family home.
A Royal insider said: ‘They want guests to have a homely experience, similar to Dumfries House [the Ayrshire mansion Charles saved].
The connection was reinforced over Christmas after Fergie was, surprisingly, welcomed to join the family for the traditional celebrations at Sandringham. Pictured: The Royals attending a Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene’s church
Camilla has taken over the Queen’s old rooms at Sandringham and both she and the King would prefer it to be run as a relaxed family home
‘Camilla respects Sir Tony [Johnstone-Burt, head of the Royal Household] but perhaps sees things differently from him. The Queen Consort doesn’t want the homes and palaces run like the sort of corporate hotel you might find at a motorway service station.
‘Camilla doesn’t want the towels put on the bed, but laid out on the rails in the bathrooms. She wants nice soap, not the same little individually wrapped soaps you get in a hotel.’
Not all of the changes have been welcomed by Sandringham staff, many of whom served for decades under the previous regime.
In the ‘Big House’, a housekeeper is leaving their post, the Mail on Sunday understands. And some say that the annual shoot was far better when Philip ran it.
One source grumbled: ‘Today, the bird numbers are much lower because they’ve been overshot.’
The Royal Family has not forgotten the ‘toe-sucking’ pictures of Fergie, but while she may have been an embarrassment, Fergie has never sought to damage the Monarchy
Previously staff had a habit of using the back stairs and made themselves scarce if they saw an approaching ‘MRF’ – Member of the Royal Family.
‘But Charles walks the corridors and wants to know where people are dashing off to,’ a source said. ‘He wants to stop and talk to them. They don’t understand it.’
If some are grumbling it was perhaps because the previous workload – with a retired Prince Philip and a nonagenarian Queen – was much lighter.
Of the changing demands, one insider added diplomatically: ‘Old habits are hard to break. Let’s just say the teams at Buckingham Palace and Sandringham are quite busy these days.’
Change is in the air within the family, too – although many insiders note than Fergie was never fully frozen out.
The thawing of relations with the 63-year-old Duchess, aides say, is indicative of a seismic shift in the family, led by the new Queen Consort
Despite divorcing in 1996, Andrew and Fergie’s assets are still so entwined, so that good fortune for one means good fortune for the other. They still live together at Royal Lodge on the Windsor estate and recently sold their jointly-owned £17 million ski chalet in the Swiss resort of Verbier.
The Duchess has also bought a £5 million mews house in Mayfair, Central London.
It’s not known how she financed it, but it is believed to have been with help from Andrew. It is further thought that she will rent it out as an investment.
Andrew, too, has had some good luck – financially, at least.
Charles has agreed to foot his brother’s estimated £3million-a-year bill for private bodyguards after his police protection was withdrawn.
And while there is no pressing desire on the part of the King to find a new job for Andrew, the Monarch is said to be warming to the idea that Andrew might be permitted to use ‘HRH’ on his correspondence again, something previously denied.
Now Andrew even dares to hope for a return to public life.
Meanwhile, Fergie is busy promoting her second historical romance for Mills & Boon, A Most Intriguing Lady.
It is her own life story, however, which may ultimately prove to be more intriguing than any work of fiction.