Does Andrew's battle with Charles root in a plot to take the crown?

ANGELA LEVIN: Does the ‘Battle of Royal Lodge’ between Charles and his brother have its roots in Andrew’s extraordinary plot to oust Charles from the line of succession and seize the throne himself?

  • Prince Andrew fears the King is trying to force him out of his Windsor home
  • But the struggle between the brothers goes back decades, says royal author
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There are understandable reasons why King Charles might want his younger brother to move out of 30-room Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother’s former mansion on the Windsor estate.

There’s the need to reduce expenditure, for example. 

The King has correctly identified the cost of the monarchy as a major political issue  and a potentially dangerous one – which is why he has cut the £250,000 annual grant that Andrew received from their late mother every year.

Is it appropriate for a disgraced prince to live in quite such style? Not everyone would think so. Andrew’s children are grown-up, moreover, so it’s not as if he needs the space.

Is sibling rivalry a factor in the ongoing row between King Charles and Prince Andrew?Pictured: Prince Andrew and Prince Charles celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at St Paul’s Cathedral on June 5, 2012

Royal Lodge, a  £30m mansion on the Windsor Estate (pictured) where Andrew has lived for 20  years, is now a major bone of contention between Charles and Andrew

The late Queen had a very soft spot for Prince Andrew, her second son, and found it difficult to say ‘no’ to him. The two are pictured in April 1980

And then there is the question of where Prince William, heir to the throne, should be living with his young family.

For the moment, the Waleses are at nearby Adelaide Cottage, but few doubt that Royal Lodge is a more appropriate home for a future King. 

Yet I believe there are other, still more personal, reasons that might be colouring Charles’s determination to move his younger brother out of Royal Lodge. Reasons that are rooted in their own family history and are perhaps related to one extraordinary episode in particular.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew ‘has no plans’ to let Charles push him out of his Royal Lodge home to let William and Kate move in

The first point is that their mother, the late Queen had a soft spot for Prince Andrew, her second son, and found it difficult to say ‘no’ to him.

Prince Philip, meanwhile, was proud of Andrew’s macho demeanour and delighted that he followed him into the Navy.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that Andrew became rather bumptious, or that the personality differences between the two princes led to comparisons which were not always favourable to Charles.

For all the love that existed between Prince Philip and his thoughtful eldest son, it is also thought that the Duke of Edinburgh found Charles to be something of a puzzle.

Charles and Andrew are very different people – and it is worth remembering that fact when it comes to the continuing row about the future of £30m Royal Lodge.

While Charles wants Andrew to downsize to the nearby five-bedroom Frogmore Cottage, which is no longer in use by Harry and Meghan, it would be wholly understandable if the younger man felt there were a personal dimension to the demand.

Queen Elizabeth with Prince Philip and their three sons, Andrew,  Charles and Edward on holiday in Balmoral in 1979

The Queen, Prince Andrew, the late Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne  on board an Aircraft Carrier in 2001  after Andrew’s return from the Falkland Islands. Philip was proud that Andrew had followed him into the Navy

Andrew came to believe that he would make a better king than his brother – and, according to author Angela Levin, he tried to persuade Queen Elizabeth to remove Charles from the line of succession

King Charles wants Prince Andrew to downsize to the nearby five-bedroom Frogmore Cottage which is no longer in use by Harry and Meghan

As revealed by The Mail on Sunday, Andrew remains determined not to move.

His children – including heavily pregnant Eugenie – are frequent visitors and former wife, Sarah Ferguson, spends much of her time living there.

How long can he hang on? It is hard to tell. Andrew has signed a 75-year lease with the Crown Estate, not the late Queen, and that lease still has a long way to run. 

At the same time, though, he is contractually obliged to keep the mansion in good condition and, unless a generous benefactor steps forward, it is unlikely he can afford to do so.

Even this battle over bricks and mortar is, in the wider scheme of things, no more than a spat. The brothers, with very different personalities, values and approaches to life, have been antagonists for some time.

Andrew, like Harry, was the ‘spare’, second in line to the throne until Prince William was born in 1982 and replaced him in the succession.

Angela Levin believes that  Andrew, Fergie and Princess Diana plotted to push Prince Charles aside so that Prince Andrew could become Regent to Prince William, who was then still a teenager. Pictured: Princess Diana talking with Sara and Prince Andrew in 1987

Andrew tried hard to get the late Queen to agree to their plan so that when she died William, not Charles, would be King with Andrew as Regent until William was old enough to take the throne

And he became convinced that he would do a better job than his more sensitive older brother.

I’ve been told by a royal insider that there were discussions between Andrew, Fergie and Princess Diana as to how Prince Charles might be pushed aside.

This would have left Andrew as Regent to Prince William, who was then still a teenager, effectively putting the Duke of York on the throne.

As I explain in my book, Camilla, From Outcast to Queen Consort, Andrew went so far as to try and persuade the late Queen to agree to their plan

And that he tried hard to block Charles from marrying Camilla too.

‘His behaviour became very, very negative and extremely unpleasant on not getting his way ,’ said my source.

Around that time – and amid much discussion of the propriety of Charles marrying Camilla – Queen Elizabeth held serious discussions behind closed doors with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George (now Lord) Carey.

Queen Elizabeth leaves  St Georges Chapel with the Archbishop of Canterbury after a service to mark her Golden Jubilee

Andrew apparently claimed that Camilla was insufficiently aristocratic and that she was not to be trusted. But he did not persuade Queen Elizabeth these things were true

When I was writing Camilla’s biography last year, Lord Carey told me that he had spoken positively to the Queen about Charles marrying Camilla, the woman he loved.

Nonetheless, I understand The Queen found herself continuing to discuss the matter with Prince Andrew.

The insider told me Andrew that had been ‘quite poisonous, mean, unhelpful and very nasty about Camilla.’

Andrew had apparently taken the view that she was insufficiently aristocratic and was not to be trusted.

If he had often seemed persuasive with the Queen, however, this time it didn’t work.

As a result, I’m told, that Andrew ‘remained so hostile about Camilla’s acceptance that it’s doubtful it has ever been forgiven.’

  • Angela Levin’s update biography, Camilla, From Outcast to Queen Consort, is published by Simon and Schuster at £20.00. To order a copy click here.

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