Prince Andrew quits as UK Trade Envoy

Damaged by links with questionable Middle Eastern regimes, Prince Andrew has been let go as UK special trade envoy. But the Middle East connections are just part of the story: it was his connection with American financier Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire hedge fund manager alleged to have had sex with many teenage girls, that was the last straw.

Female trouble

The Duke and Epstein's own connection goes back many years. It's unlikely the Duke was full aware of the full picture of Epstein's relations with young girls for much of the time they knew each other.

But Andrew, 51, would surely have been aware of the worries when he spent several days in New York as a guest of the fund manager in December. Epstein by then had already served a 13-month prison sentence for soliciting prostitution from under-age girls.

What will the Prince do now? A bit of golf? It's not clear. It's likely he will probably take on some part-time trade role in the UK, promoting apprenticeships or entrepreneurs. Something business related. But more immediately, he might even be involved in a US lawsuit fronted by Brad Edwards, who is representing some of Epstein's alleged child sex targets.

PM support

David Cameron claims he fully supports Prince Andrew. But that support doesn't travel extensively currently. For example, ex ambassador to Tunisia, Stephen Day, in a leaked note to William Hague, recommended Andrew be given an "entirely new role should be found for him as soon as possible".

Tunisian and Libyan ties - both countries are now undergoing much-needed regime change - have certainly damaged him.

As has the payment of £15m for his Sunninghill Park mansion, a sale ticket that was considerably above the asking price - paid for by the billionaire son of President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.

Rules for Royals

Prince Andrew has strongly denied any wrong doing. Allegations that too much public money has been spent on his foreign travel also hang around, as do the uncomfortably close ties with the UK defence industry (hardly a surprise given his previous job as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot).

Ultimately Prince Andrew mixed business with pleasure rather too much; too much of the high life. And too much exposure to some deeply creepy people.

Which is why he's gone. For the moment, at least. Will he be missed? Did he do any good? Well, what do you think?
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