‘Sex and greed’: Prince Andrew’s decades-long fall from grace exposed in documentary

From playboy to a banished royal, new documentary tracks how and why Prince Andrew ended up an outcast.

From playboy to a banished royal, new documentary tracks how and why Prince Andrew ended up an outcast. Photo: Getty

Once compared to film star Robert Redford and dubbed “The Playboy Prince” by the British tabloids for his dating habits, Prince Andrew had it all.

A clear favourite of the late Queen, the Duke of York, now 62, enjoyed a privileged life and his public popularity knew no boundaries.

All that crumbled around him as his relationship with notorious paedophile, the late Jeffrey Epstein, and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell (currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for procuring teenage girls to be abused by Epstein) was exposed and covered in multiple true-crime docu-series.

Now, the disgraced eighth in line to the throne gets his own 80-minute expose in Prince Andrew: Banished (NBCUniversal).

Although there are no bombshell revelations, director Jamie Crawford (Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, The Hunt for Ted Bundy) blends fresh interviews about the Prince with stacks of rarely seen archival footage dating back to his time growing up as the second son of the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

It traces his time as a working royal around the world, the women in his life, his marriage to Sarah Ferguson (and subsequent scandals) through to focusing on how and why he became this generation’s most disgraced member of the British royal family with his ties to Epstein.

“There’s always one runt of the litter, and Andrew was it,” declares former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter early on in the documentary, before calling him an “idiot” for agreeing to the 2019 train-wreck interview with Newsnight.

The director Jamie Crawford  told Vanity Fair he was surprised how much of a “national hero” Prince Andrew was before his unprecedented, epic fall from grace.

“What was really surprising actually, making this, was that it reminded me just how much of a national hero he was in his youth,” Crawford said.

“As we dove into his past and the archive from decades gone, it was just amazing to see a very, very different Andrew from the tabloid headlines that we know today.”


The Duke of York answers questions about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: BBC

‘Character assassination of the most brutal kind’

So what do we learn that hasn’t already been scrutinised?

Crawford, who started the project in March after Prince Andrew was stripped of his military titles and settled out of court with one of his Epstein accusers Virginia Giuffre, says he has interviewed former royal journalists who “had a front-row view of everything that’s happened since the ’70s and ’80s”.

“They were an absolute font of fascinating information,” he said.

“One of the film’s many talking heads makes no bones about their opinions regarding Andrew’s immaturity, entitlement, licentiousness and stupidity. It’s a doozy,” Crawford said.

“It’s character assassination of the most brutal, and deserved, kind,” says The Daily Beast review by Nick Schager.

Let’s check out some of Banished‘s memorable moments.

Public life and going a bit ‘rogue’

Banished delivers up many “eye-popping interviews” and anecdotes, says Vanity Fair.

There’s footage of the prince visiting a Los Angeles housing project in the ’80s only to “go rogue, pick up a paint gun, and start blasting the reporters covering his trip”.

Prince Andrew says the Buckingham Palace apartments are actually quite modest – “they’re only about three or four rooms thick” – and defends himself from allegations of living extravagantly while speaking to a reporter in front of an ornate gilded fireplace.

“What is an extravagant lifestyle?” the Prince queries.

Prince Andrew’s money and fame

The Duke had a serious 18-month love affair in the early 1980s with American-born actor Koo Stark before eventually marrying Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson in 1986.

The documentary details how they “promptly began monetising their fame as a means of maintaining the lifestyle he coveted”, says Crawford in the Vanity Fair interview.

“You assume that somebody called a prince is a multi-gazillion billionaire.

“And it was very surprising to discover that that’s not the case. Whilst he received a very healthy salary, it clearly was not enough to fund the lifestyle he was after.

“A fairly common refrain [in the interviews], was that the lack of money was often one of the factors that was pretty closely tied to his problems.”

The revolving door of women

Banished explores his relationship with Maxwell – a friend from university days – after his marriage to the Duchess of York ended (they divorced in 1996).

A former Buckingham Palace protection officer remembers her frequent visits and a “revolving door of women Andrew entertained”.

After Maxwell moved to New York, he was a frequent traveller to the city that never sleeps, and that’s where he struck up his friendship with Epstein.

“The two were an ideal pair, since Andrew helped elevate Epstein’s status (and gave him access to additional powerful figures), and Epstein offered Andrew the wealth, privacy and sense of importance – of being the centre of attention – he craved,” reports Schager.

There’s also this reminder in a news clip: “The prince went to a novelty restaurant where mock spankings are given by waitresses in schoolgirl uniforms to customers.”

Vanity Fair says with “so many appalling quotes, newspaper clips and photos – demonstrating the prince’s chronically bad judgment and behaviour – viewers will likely wonder why the royal wasn’t sidelined earlier”.

Newspapers the day after the Duke of York suspended his work with his charities, organisations and military units because of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Getty

A saga of  ‘sex and greed’

Fleet Street reporter and author Annette Witheridge says sex and greed were at the centre of Andrew’s fateful relationship with Epstein and Maxwell, according to Schager.

Banished works through this last chapter of his life with forensic scrutiny, with Schager concluding that rather than just “oafish” and “rude,” Andrew “was an apparent paedophilic predator who sought out Epstein’s company because the financier and convicted sex offender could give him precisely what he wanted, with Maxwell as the glue that held them together”.

“Giuffre’s claims, and Andrew’s disastrous responses to them on Newsnight, are diligently rehashed here, as are other sordid allegations leveled against the prince.”

Schager concludes Crawford’s documentary “serves as a blistering takedown, if not, perhaps, the final nail in his coffin”.

Prince Andrew: Banished is set to stream nationally this month

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