DAN WOOTTON: The tragic fallout of Harry and Andrew's poor choices
DAN WOOTTON: How tragic that the Queen can’t even escape the fall-out from Harry and Andrew’s poor choices to bury her beloved husband in the manner he deserves
Prince Philip proudly served as Captain-General of the Royal Marines for 64-years.
Prince Harry lasted for just 26 months in the role, which he accepted after Philip retired in 2017, before swanning off to California and accusing the Royal Family of racism as his grandfather lay in hospital fighting for life.
Prince Andrew’s despicable refusal to assist the FBI in their investigations into his paedophile best mate Jeffrey Epstein saw the military rightly run a mile from his ongoing involvement.
After overwhelming pressure, he reluctantly agreed to defer an honorary Navy promotion to Admiral that he was due to receive when he turned 60.
But this week, he demanded to wear the Admiral uniform to his father’s funeral anyway, leaving the prospect of civilian Harry being the only senior member of the family in a bog-standard suit.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry watch the fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour, Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Parade on June 14, 2014
I’m not for a second comparing the predicament of Harry and Andrew – they are clearly very different.
But the decisions both exiled princes have made come with very clear consequences.
One of those consequences is about the right to take part in major occasions of state and family dressed in military uniform.
It might not matter to you or me. Who cares what the male royals wear to Philip’s funeral?
But to the late Duke of Edinburgh, whose life was guided by the importance of his military experience during World War Two as a member of our greatest generation, it would have been of utmost importance.
Prince Andrew in ceremonial dress at a service to mark the centenary of the RAF in London on July 10, 2018 (left); and Prince Harry attending Royal Albert Hall with Meghan in his dress as Captain General of the Royal Marines on March 7, 2020 (right)
Prince Harry walks with his best man, the Duke of Cambridge, as he arrives at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for his wedding to Meghan Markle, May 19, 2018
So the decision for all the royals – including Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince William – to wear suits instead of their military garb on Saturday stinks to high heaven.
The selfish, egotistical and ‘me me me’ positions of Andrew and Harry have forced the Queen to forego royal tradition, at a time when she needs this sort of crap to deal with least.
Once again, the bad behaviour of his offspring is overshadowing Prince Philip’s exemplary service and piling unneeded pressure on his grieving widow, who we must never forget, despite her boisterous appearance, is 94 herself.
It’s indicative of today’s woke culture that the conclusion is that the rules must be changed to spare Harry’s blushes and Andrew’s gigantic ego.
The royal couple who have done the nation proud this week is Prince Edward and his wife Sophie Wessex, whose reassuring public statements and steadfast support for the Queen in private got the tone just right.
Watching Sophie, a former public relations executive who went through her own very bumpy entrance into the Royal Family, I couldn’t help wondering how much better it would have been if Meghan had followed her path.
Instead, Harry and Meghan have to live with their decision to throw their flesh and blood under the bus to Oprah Winfrey.
Sources close to the couple are reported to have told Heat Magazine this week of their regrets over the timing of the interview, saying the Sussexes ‘wish things could have been different’.
Well, I’m afraid to say it’s far too little too late for those kinds of thoughts. After all, they went through with such an incendiary chat with their eyes wide open.
Harry and Meghan were warned of the pressure of putting the Queen and Philip through such professional and personal trauma as the Duke battled ill health.
Despite claims to the contrary, the interview took place AFTER Philip was admitted to hospital.
Meghan tried to justify the decision by telling Oprah in the chicken pen that she’d attempted to call the Queen directly after learning the news.
Her pal Oprah never asked the obvious follow up question of whether Her Majesty picked up the phone and if they had asked her permission to go ahead with the bombshell interview. That’s highly unlikely.
The moment he found out his grandfather had been admitted to hospital, Harry should have immediately called Oprah and postponed the interview.
But the couple’s craven desire to release their bombshells at the same moment as they revealed the sex of their unborn baby trumped what was the correct and decent thing to do.
The Duke of York, Prince of Wales, Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and the Earl of Wessex follow the coffin of the Queen Mother from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey in 2002
They will have to live with their decision and, while I, of course, sympathise with Harry for the loss of a dear grandfather, he cannot rewrite history.
Speaking of a desperate attempt to change the narrative, on Monday I revealed on MailOnline how Andrew is hoping his re-emergence to publicly mark his father’s death will help change public opinion and provide a path back to royal duties.
But, as usual, his arrogance over the demand to wear the Admiral uniform that he hasn’t been granted, first revealed by the Daily Mail’s Royal Editor Rebecca English, shows how delusional he really is.
Andrew’s bumbling on camera interview on Sunday was another misstep. Why not release a tribute on paper, just like Princess Anne, Prince William and even his daughter Princess Eugenie?
Until the disgraced Duke of York agrees to sit down with US law enforcement, as he has been falsely promising to do for years, and tell them EVERYTHING he knows about Epstein he should be banished from public life.
So on Saturday we will see a family try to put their significant differences aside to rally around the Queen.
But make no mistake, crisis and acrimony is bubbling just below the service.
Meghan and Harry want vengeance for what they see as their mistreatment and won’t rest until they believe justice has been served.
Andrew wants to return to the spotlight, even with Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial just around the corner, and there’s only so much royal courtiers can do to stop him trying.
What a great shame for the Queen that she no longer has her rock to knock some heads together and tell her wayward relatives to sort themselves out before they do long lasting damage to the monarchy.
It’s a disgrace that the needs of FBI-avoiding Andrew and petulant Harry risk overshadowing Prince Philip’s life of service.
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