Townsend affair, “Tampongate” scandal, revelations about Prince Andrew, biography of Harry… the image of the royal family continues to be scratched. Showing resistance and pugnacity under the reign of Elizabeth II, will the British crown resist these repeated scandals under King Charles III? Bertrand Deckers, journalist specializing in the British monarchy answers questions from La Dépêche du Midi.
What are the major scandals that shook the British monarchy under the reign of Elizabeth II?
In my opinion, the first ‘glossy’ scandal that caused ink to flow was the Peter Townsend affair in 1953. Margaret, the sister of Elizabeth II, wants to marry Commander Peter Townsend, a divorced man. But the queen, who is also head of the Anglican Church, refuses to give her consent to this marriage because the Church does not recognize divorce. The magazines will echo it and will even take Margaret’s side. There is also the “Tampongate” scandal where, in 1993, naughty exchanges between Prince Charles and Camilla will leak. The world will then realize that Prince Charles, married to Diana, has a mistress, thus confirming the rumors. More recently, it was the Prince Andrew scandal, linked to the Epstein affair, which splashed the royal family.
Should we expect a return of Prince Andrew to the public square?
The Queen was forced to strip her favorite son of his predicate of Royal Highness and the privileges that go with it. Charles III should therefore not have to manage the Andrew affair. The fallen son somehow stepped out of the royal sphere. The media will pay less attention to his actions. The real thorn in the side of King Charles III is rather Harry and Meghan.
Officially scheduled for November, the release of Harry’s biographical book, so dreaded by the crown, has been postponed. Would it be a sign of renunciation?
Announced before the queen’s death, the publication of the book was postponed until January to encompass the death of her grandmother. Should we expect today a tribute book that no longer scratches anyone? Allow me to doubt it. When we know the amount paid by the Penguin Random House editions to buy the rights to the manuscript, they expect juicy scandals. The publishing house even presents the book as one of the revelations about the traumas that marked Harry’s childhood.
The scandals are not about to stop?
Harry and Meghan have fallen into a mechanism where they need money. Their lifestyle is expensive, like their villa in Montecito. Just to ensure their safety, the expenses are colossal. The head of their bodyguards is none other than the Obamas’ former security chief. On the other hand, no longer being part of the royal family, they need another source of money to maintain their lifestyle. It’s sad to say, but so far the only solution they’ve found is to spread themselves in the media talking about the royal family. Besides, Netflix is filming a documentary series on the life of Meghan and Harry. 99 million dollars were paid by the platform to produce it. Today the royal family no longer trusts Harry.
How will the new king be able to contain these dissidences?
He has no choice but to return Harry to the fold of the crown. By giving it an official role, Charles III will also be able to convey the image of a once again united family. But basically, it is rather Meghan who is the problem. Harry left because she pushed him against the wall. Concretely to limit scandals, the challenge of Charles III will be to tighten the family by limiting the members of the royal family to the sovereigns and their children, even to their direct heirs. I am convinced that Chales III will surprise us. While Elizabeth II had become a sort of granny who did not hesitate to cover up Harry’s escapades, which was “his joy of living”, Charles seems less conciliatory. We all witnessed his character in the episode of the inkwell that made the buzz on social networks.
What is the attitude of the British in the face of these repeated scandals?
Scandals are part of everyday British life. The tabloid press will report an anecdote about the royal family every day. Their every move is scrutinized on a daily basis. The British are in demand because the royal family is their family. They want to see them live. Basically, only the most dizzying things happen to us. Scandals are part of the Windsor’s DNA. It should be remembered that it was thanks to a scandal that Queen Elizabeth was able to accede to the throne. By abdicating to be able to marry Wallis Simpson, Edward VIII allowed George VI to become king, making Elizabeth his heiress.