Prince Andrew scandal casts cloud over royals

With more than seven weeks to go before the royal wedding, perhaps it’s safe to assume that the troubles of Prince Andrew will not be casting a dark shadow over what is supposed to be a joyous occasion.

Still, the nuptials may only prove be a brief respite from the string of bad decisions that have afflicted Prince William’s uncle and, to a lesser extent it seems, his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who has caused her own troubles while trying to get out from under a pile of debt.

Prince Andrew A brief recap:

- Andrew has been friends with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Over the weekend, British newspapers carried photographs of Andrew with his arm around a woman who claims to be one of the victims of the former New York financier who spent 13 months in prison for sex offences.

- Andrew (right) has been on friendly terms with a couple of people he should have stayed away from: Saif al Islam Ghadafi, son of Libyan leader Moamar Ghadafi, and Sakher el Materi, the son-in-law of Tunisia's deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

- Sarah admits that she accepted about $24,500 from Epstein to help pay off her debts. The payment was handled through Prince Andrew’s office. "I am just so contrite I cannot say," the Duchess of York told the London Evening Standard. "Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."

 - There are calls for Andrew to lose his role as Britain’s trade envoy, a job for which he is paid Sarah no salary but the government takes care of expenses (in 2007, they totaled about $200,000).

Prime Minister David Cameron is standing by Andrew, as is Sarah (right), who has spent the last few years trying to get out from under about  $7 million in debt. You’ll recall that she once caught promising an undercover reporter access to the duke in exchange for about $750,000.

"Once again, my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world — the duke (Andrew)," the Duchess of York told the Standard.. "He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him."

The latest royal black eye prompted Reuters to compile a list of missteps by the Windsors. Included on the rap sheet:

- On a trip to China in the 1980s, Prince Philip warned British students: "You'll get slitty eyes if you stay too long."

- A newspaper intercepted a phone call between Prince Charles and and his lover Camilla Parker Bowles in 1993 in which the prince said he wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon.

- Princess Anne became the first British royal to be convicted of a criminal offence in 350 years in 2002 when she pleaded guilty for failing to stop one of her dogs biting two children.

- Photos in 1992 showed a topless Sarah Ferguson kissing and having her toes sucked by her "financial adviser", John Bryan, in front of her two small daughters.

- In 2002, Prince Harry admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking while under-age.

- In 2005, he wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party two weeks before Queen Elizabeth led Holocaust memorial ceremonies. He later said it had been a "very stupid thing" to do.

Out of all this, one wonders:

a) How does the Queen put up with all this?

b) How soon will it be before Prince William or Kate are put on this rap sheet?




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