The Transformation Of Prince Andrew

Trigger warning: The following article details child abuse and sex trafficking. 

When we think about scandals that have rocked the British royal family, we often think of Prince Charles' divorce from Diana Spencer or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's tumultuous exit. But the scandal that should really be at the forefront of everyone's mind is the sexual assault allegations lobbed against Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's third (and rumored favorite) child. Andrew has been out of the spotlight since 2019, but that doesn't mean his name doesn't grace the papers with new and disturbing details of his behavior, splattered for the world to see.

Andrew, of course, is known for more than just his alleged disturbing behavior. His marriage to Sarah Ferguson is one of three royal marriages that deteriorated in 1992, and his role as a working royal has been a fixture of his life for decades. His popularity has been on a steady decline in recent years, according to YouGov, and his public sightings have only taken place at his daughters' weddings in 2018 and 2020, respectively. So what led the prince down a questionable path, and what has his life looked like in full? We did all the digging so you don't have to — here's the transformation of Prince Andrew.

Why did Queen Elizabeth have two more children after Charles and Anne?

We've all heard the moniker, "An heir and a spare," so why did Queen Elizabeth choose to have more children after she gave birth to both Prince Charles and Princess Anne? Well, as explained by historian Robert Lacey and as noted by Town & Country, Elizabeth reportedly didn't (and still doesn't) have a particularly close relationship with her first son, Charles, as she spent the bulk of his childhood serving as the monarch of her country (you know, a small responsibility, really). 

Additionally, Charles was predominantly raised by nannies and had a close relationship with his grandmother. As such, the mother-son duo didn't bond all that much. Of course, we should mention the decades-long rumors surrounding their relationship, as Charles has been gunning for his mother's job and title for years. Cue Andrew, who was born 12 years after Charles and who served as a sort of do-over for the queen. He was born in 1960, and, as the queen had gotten her footing as monarch by that time, she was "warmer and more flexible," per Lacey.

Andrew had a very different childhood than his older siblings

Did the 12-year age gap between Prince Charles and Prince Andrew really make that much difference? According to historian Robert Lacey, it did. Town & Country detailed that, unlike with her first two children, Queen Elizabeth "stepped back from her royal duties" to interact more with Andrew. "Early in the 1960s, Her Majesty decided that she had done her duty by her country, and took the best part of 18 months off work to produce and enjoy her 'second family,' the young princes Andrew and Edward, born in 1960 and 1964 respectively," Lacey said. And, yes, we too cringed at the phrase "second family," because that's really just an ouch. 

What's more is that, in the 1960s, Elizabeth and Prince Philip gave the BBC permission to follow them with cameras for a documentary, and some of the captured footage showed Elizabeth as a "playful mother relaxing with her children," per Lacey. To say that Andrew had a completely different childhood experience to that of his eldest siblings is a grave understatement, and that close bond he shared with his mother as a child is still evident today.

The prince became a pilot in the Royal Navy

Following a far more parental-involved childhood, Prince Andrew pursued both academic and professional pursuits. As noted by Biography, much like the royals who came before him, he was educated by a governess while he lived in Buckingham Palace until he was about 8 years old. As a young teen, he moved to Scotland and attended the Gordonstoun School, the boarding school that had been home to both his father, Prince Philip, and his older brother, Prince Charles, before him. 

From there, Andrew moved once again, this time to attend the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon, England. It was through his final schooling experience that Andrew settled on joining the Royal Navy, where he served as an officer and pilot for a number of years. In the early 1980s, he was stationed on the HMS Invincible, and he flew a variety of missions that resulted in casualty evacuation from the British held territory, the Falkland Islands. In 1984, two years after his service on the frontlines, Queen Elizabeth named him a "personal aide-de-camp" and promoted him to the rank of lieutenant.

Andrew had a questionable romantic relationship in his younger years

Does the bulk of your knowledge about the royal family come from watching "The Crown"? Well, while parts of the show are dramatized, the exchange between Olivia Colman's Queen Elizabeth and James Murray's Prince Andrew speaks volumes about a relationship that the prince had in his younger years. As noted by The Cut, the scene in question depicts Andrew speaking about his then-girlfriend, Koo Stark, an actress who starred in a film about an underaged girl dealing with "perverted older predators" entitled "The Awakening of Emily." 

Of course, the scene is an allusion to Andrew's involvement with Jeffrey Epstein (more on that later), but it also shed light on the relationship the prince shared with the budding actress. And, yes, the film about a 17-year-old who is taken advantage of sexually while visiting her mother's country home — which is, with all intents and purposes, disturbing – is very much real. Stark and Andrew were together in the early 1980s but called off their relationship in 1983, per Bustle. "The amount of attention and pressure on me became unbearable," Stark said of her relationship with Andrew.

He became a husband in 1986

About three years after Prince Andrew and Koo Stark split up, the prince tied the knot with Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson. Royal weddings are a huge deal, and Andrew's wedding came as a huge, celebratory affair in Britain. As noted by the BBC, Andrew and Fergie said "I do" on July 23, 1986, in front of 2,000 wedding guests lining the aisle at Westminster Abbey. Thousands of people crowded the streets to get a peak at the royal couple, and another 500 million watched as the two became husband and wife. 

Here are some details from the day — yes, there were 2,000 people in attendance, but that was no match for the 30,000 flowers that crowded the Abbey as decorations. Fergie had a four-minute long walk down the aisle, and if that wasn't nerve wracking enough, she had to carry a 17-foot-long train behind her. The then-First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan, was in attendance, as was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and 17 members of royal families from around the world. Just before Andrew and Fergie were officially married, they adopted the titles the Duke and Duchess of York, bestowed upon them by Queen Elizabeth.

Andrew and Sarah Ferguson welcomed children in 1988 and 1990

Shortly after he became a husband, Prince Andrew became a father. He and Sarah Ferguson welcomed Princess Beatrice on August 8, 1988, at the Portland Hospital in London. Of her birth, Beatrice has shared that because of her birth date and time — August 8, 1988, born at 8:18 p.m. — people don't believe her birthday is 8/8/88 (we love a good royal fun fact), per Hello!. Andrew's first daughter had a bit of a rough childhood — in addition to dealing with her parents' divorce, she struggled with dyslexia as a kid. 

Two years later, Andrew and Fergie welcomed Princess Eugenie at the same hospital as Beatrice was born. The couple appeared on the steps of the hospital with Eugenie "wrapped in a white blanket," as per a report from the Los Angeles Times at the time. The newspaper noted how she slept like a baby throughout the intense media attention. Both of Andrew's girls were the subject of scrutiny from a young age, and one crowd goer even said to the Times of Eugenie's name, "How awful. How absolutely awful. I suppose it has to go with Beatrice."

Andrew's marriage deteriorated in the early '90s

When we think about Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, the word "whirlwind" comes to mind. Their courtship was quick, they were only married for two years before they welcomed children, and, by the early 1990s, their marriage began to deteriorate. As noted by Harper's Bazaar, the two were legally separated by 1992, adding to the chaotic nature of their marriage. What caused the split? According to Fergie, Andrew's role in the Royal Navy made maintaining their relationship incredibly difficult, as he was only able to see her 40 out of the 365 days per year for the first five years of their marriage. "I spent my entire first pregnancy alone; when Beatrice was born, Andrew got 10 days of shore leave, and when he left and I cried, they all said: 'Grow up and get a grip,'" Fergie shared of the difficult experience. 

Of course, 1992 also included the Fergie "sucking toe-gate" situation, which involved paparazzi photos taken of Fergie and then-lover John Bryan who was "shown planting a tender kiss on the sole of the duchess's foot," per The Washington Post at the time. Reconciliation was never in the cards for these two.

Fergie and Andrew officially divorced in 1996

About four years after separating, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson divorced. Based on our digging, it appears as though Andrew got through to the other side of the debacle rather unscathed, as the media attention at the time largely focused on Fergie and the rumblings of infidelity. Of the divorce, Fergie told Harper's Bazaar that it was "the most painful time" of her life with Andrew and that, throughout the entire proceeding, she wanted to maintain the friendship and bond she shared with the royal family — but that might not have been as easy as she had hoped. 

As noted by Town & Country, the royal family — and Prince Philip in particular — was deeply scarred by the divorce. We should note that it most likely did not help that other royal marriages were crumbling at the time: Prince Charles and Diana Spencer were also divorcing, and Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips had ended their marriage shortly before as well. Royal unions were exploding all over the place, and, as for Andrew and his failed marriage to Fergie, Philip reportedly said in private, "Everything I have worked for 40 years has been in vain."

He struggled to define himself as a businessman

With so many personal trials, it's easy to forget that Prince Andrew has been a working royal for decades. And, while the 1990s were plagued by his divorce, he also used the time to try to emerge as a businessman. As noted by the New York Post, Queen Elizabeth's third child "tried to build a career officially representing Britain's business interests abroad," primarily taking on the role of a trade ambassador. But, as you might imagine of someone who has been fed quite literally by a silver spoon his entire life, Andrew's taste in trade led him down a path to the "wealthy and insidious" members of the international trading community. 

For instance, Andrew "courted" the likes of Saif al-Islam, who happened to be the son of Colonel Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya who faces charges of crimes against humanity. Of Andrew's failed business approach, noted the New York Post, one inside source told royal expert Nigel Cawthorne, "Andrew's relations around the world are dicey ... He's rude, lashes out to lay down the law and it's so difficult to sell him."

The early 2000s commenced a troubling time in the prince's life

If the 1990s were a trying time for Prince Andrew, the early 2000s marked an alleged dark and abusive time on his part. As reported by BBC News, sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre claimed Andrew abused her sexually in 2001 and did so on three separate occasions. She was just 16 at the time. Giuffre shared that, in 2001, Andrew abused the then-minor at a London nightclub. Infamous billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, allegedly introduced Giuffre to Andrew, with Giuffre claiming that Maxwell told her she had to "do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey." Andrew allegedly had sex with the teenager later that evening at Maxwell's home. 

The second abusive interaction Giuffre recounted allegedly took place in Epstein's New York mansion, and the third occurred on Epstein's private island, she claimed. Giuffre recounted that, at the time, she was "forced into sex by explicit or implicit threats" and feared for her well-being due to Epstein, Maxwell, and the prince's "powerful connections, wealth and authority." She also claimed that, at the time, Andrew knew she was underaged and a victim of sex trafficking.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The allegations against Prince Andrew officially came to light in 2019

The troubling allegations lobbed against Prince Andrew officially came to light in 2019. While the assaults in question had taken place years prior, Virginia Giuffre came forward with her story and pushed the prince into addressing the controversial accusations.

In an interview with BBC News, Andrew maintained his innocence and claimed that, while he was associated with Jeffrey Epstein, it was "a considerable stretch" to categorize their relationship as one of "close" friendship. "He had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together and that's the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations ... a cosmopolitan group of ... [U.S.] eminents," Andrew said of his interactions with Epstein, all while maintaining he did not abuse Giuffre, nor was he aware of any illegal activity on the part of Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell. "At the time there was no indication to me or anybody else that that was what he was doing," Andrew said, adding, "There was no indication, absolutely no indication."

The queen's youngest son officially faces charges in the U.S. as of 2021

Prince Andrew has transformed from the son of a monarch whose drama was contained to a messy divorce, to a named abuser in a civil lawsuit. As per Time, Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit in New York under the state's Child Victims Act, a law passed in 2019 enabling child victims of sex trafficking and abuse to come forward and pursue legal avenues of monetary compensation. While the amount of money Giuffre is suing Andrew for is unknown, Queen Elizabeth's son has not returned to the U.S., and has maintained that the allegations against him are false. 

Andrew did admit he was served on September 21, 2021, and was given a month to formally respond to the filing. As aforementioned, Andrew has maintained his innocence, but, as Time noted, he has not been able to explain a photo taken of himself and Giuffre, who was 17 at the time. The prince, father of two, and grandfather is expected to face trial any time between September and December 2022, as per NBC News.

Andrew's ex-wife and daughters support him despite the troubling allegations

Many people were shocked by the troubling news regarding Prince Andrew, but it's safe to say that observers were even more surprised when his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, stood by him. In an interview with People, Fergie divulged she is in her ex-husband's corner and that she will support him no matter what. "Whatever challenges he has, I will stand firm to the co-parenters that we are together," she said. "I believe that he's a kind, good man, and he's been a fabulous father to the girls." 

What's more is that Andrew and Fergie still live together, despite having been divorced for many years. As noted by the Mirror, they both reside at Royal Lodge in Windsor and even bought a ski chalet together in 2014. And, while Fergie is firmly a member of Team Andrew, his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, reportedly haven't had an easy time with the allegations posed against their father. A friend of the princesses told the New York Post that the two were "deeply distressed" over the news but that they still support their father.

Where do things stand between Andrew and his mother, Queen Elizabeth?

With the alarming information at the public's disposal, you may be questioning where Prince Andrew's relationship with Queen Elizabeth stands. After all, Andrew is the royal with the lowest approval rating (according to YouGov, he's sitting at a measly 13% as opposed to the queen's 72%). But, despite the disturbing allegations attached to him and his withdrawal from the public eye, Andrew is still rumored to be the queen's favorite child. 

As noted by the Independent, Elizabeth is most frustrated with Prince Charles. Meanwhile, she is said to be "openly affectionate" with Andrew, as per royal expert Clive Irving. So why does the queen's disapproval fall onto the son without allegations of child sex abuse attached to him? As far as Irving shared, Elizabeth does not think Charles will ever "live up" to her "sense of duty." As Andrew will never be king, such pressure does not fall on him. Irving's claims were supported by Majesty editor Ingrid Seward, who said Charles is "the polar opposite to younger brother Andrew," which, in turn, explains the stark differences in their relationships with their mother.