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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Explained: Why are British Royals being accused of double standards over Prince Andrew, Meghan Markle?

Many have questioned Buckingham Palace’s move against Markle, and asking why it has still not addressed the considerably more serious complaints against Prince Andrew.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2021 12:50:11 pm
Prince AndrewBritain's Prince Andrew leaves St Mary the Virgin church in Hillington, near royal Sandringham estate, in Norfolk, Britain January 19, 2020. (Source: Reuters/File image)

The past week has been tumultuous for the British royal family, with Meghan Markle accusing the household of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and her husband Prince Harry in an interview with celebrity talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

On Wednesday, the same day that an excerpt of the interview was released, the Royal Family announced it was opening an inquiry into accusations that Markle bullied palace staff in 2018.

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Many are now questioning Buckingham Palace’s move against Markle, and asking why it has still not addressed the considerably more serious complaints against Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II.

The probe against Meghan

This week, a report by The Times newspaper said that assistants working for Meghan two years ago had been bullied by her. It cited unnamed sources and claimed that an aide to Harry and Meghan had raised a complaint in October 2018, alleging Meghan had reduced some of her assistants to tears and treated others so badly they had quit.

The paper said Harry had urged the aide, who has now left their staff, to drop the complaint, and it never progressed. The Times said it had been contacted by former staff members who wanted the public to gain insight before the Winfrey interview aired.

After the Times report was published, the Royal Household said in a statement that it was “very concerned” about the allegations, adding that it “does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace”. It announced that its HR team would look into the allegations and that members of staff involved at the time would be invited to participate.

Harry and Meghan denied the allegations, with a spokeswoman calling the probe the “latest attack on [Meghan’s] character”.

Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein

Critics have slammed the Royal Family for singling out Meghan Markle, while going soft on Prince Andrew, who faces allegations of having sex with a minor, and for his ties with the American hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in August 2019 while pending trial.

Jeffrey Epstein, a successful financier, was accused by the US Justice Department of running a racket in which girls as young as 14 were lured to his residences, where he would abuse them. Epstein allegedly made the girls give him nude and semi-nude massages, and engage in sexual acts with him.

Epstein’s close circle reportedly included former US Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew.

Accusations against Andrew

Prince Andrew, who holds the Duke of York title, is the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Aged 61, he is the eighth in line to the British throne.

In 2001, Andrew became the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, a position from which he had to step down in 2011 after being criticised over his ties with Epstein, as well as other controversial figures.

In 2015, an American woman named Virginia Giuffre alleged that she was trafficked to Prince Andrew when she was 17 by Epstein, who was holding her as a sex slave. Giuffre has said that she had sex with Andrew on three occasions in 2001, claims that Andrew has denied.

In late 2019, Andrew was highly criticised for an interview he gave to the BBC related to the Epstein case, as many viewers said he failed to show regret for Epstein’s victims. He was later forced to give up royal duties.

In 2020, it was reported that Andrew was a person of interest in the Epstein investigation in the US, and that the US Department of Justice had submitted a mutual legal assistance request to Britain’s Home Office to formally interrogate Andrew. US investigators that year openly accused Andrew of providing “zero cooperation” with the case.

The Royal Family’s “double standards”

In February this year, when it was confirmed that Harry and Meghan would be permanently stepping back as senior royals, it was announced that the two had lost their royal patronages, and that Harry would be stripped of his military titles.

Critics have said that this treatment of Harry stood in stark contrast with how Andrew was treated. Since 2019, although Andrew does not undertake any official duties, he continues to hold on to a number of military titles, including commodore in chief of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, as per the Express.

Meghan’s supporters, including ‘Suits’ co-star Patrick J Adams, have dismissed the bullying complaints as baseless, and slammed the Royal Family for launching a probe when Meghan is pregnant with her second child with Prince Harry.

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