Film Editor James Evenden reviews the controversial musical about Prince Andrew
Content Warning: This article mentions paedophilia and sexual assault.
I think that the first thing I should establish about Channel 4’s recent Prince Andrew: The Musical is its overall necessity in the ongoing discussions around Prince Andrew himself and the crimes he was accused of, which he denies committing. I think that, whilst Channel 4 remains unprivatised and out of the hands of people who would like to seek to suppress such a programme as Prince Andrew: The Musical, it can only be seen as a positive that there are still major broadcasters who are not afraid to take risks in what they air. It was a risk for Channel 4 to even air Prince Andrew: The Musical. Whilst it does not hit the mark I feel was necessary, I think its mere existence is a win for those, much like myself, who still want answers from Andrew.
When my family put on Prince Andrew: The Musical, I must admit I was unsure of what to make of the idea of it. Andrew was accused of extremely serious crimes, and not to mention his known association with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Virginia Giuffre’s sexual assault case against Andrew was settled out of court in 2022, but I do not think there is much doubt in the public eye that there is more to this than Andrew would ever admit to. Andrew’s name has been unalterably smeared, and for good reason.
When I first started watching Prince Andrew: The Musical, the first thought I had was if there had actually been enough time pass in which we can suitably joke about Andrew. Prince Andrew: The Musical had a very delicate tone it needed to strike if it was to come off well, and not just a distasteful reflection on a distasteful man.
For the most part, Prince Andrew: The Musical errs on the side of caution, careful not to keep its jabs mostly above the belt. It opens with a lavish dance number centred around the infamous interview Andrew gave in an effort to clear his name. The interview went quite badly for him, I think it is safe to say, and the lack of remorse shown by Andrew is easily picked up on by Prince Andrew: The Musical. It is a funny kick off.
As it goes on, it seems Prince Andrew: The Musical finds the confidence to make wittier remarks, picking up significantly with the introduction of Sarah Ferguson (Jenny Bede). Quipping about their unconventional marital arrangements, with a helpful heaping of phallic jokes, makes for a funny time.
Prince Andrew: The Musical finds a harder time when it comes to confronting the elephant in the room by the name of Jeffrey Epstein. The musical makes a fleeting remark at Jeffrey, also leaving room to reference Charles’ association with Jimmy Saville. With this Saville reference, Prince Andrew: The Musical somewhat dilutes its attention from just Andrew, taking aim at the new King too. The programme ends with the haunting final sentiment that the royals are always going to need an Andrew to be the screw up of the family, to take attention away from any other potential wrongdoing.
With this final sentiment, Prince Andrew: The Musical falls short. The sentiment is both wise and sadly truthful, but they have just spent the last fifty minutes showing Andrew to be a goofy and silly man. If Andrew has found use in being the dunce in the Royal Family, then Prince Andrew: The Musical only serves to validate Andrew’s position. It passes off Andrew as nothing more than a cheeky pest when he is so much more than that, and represents so much more than that in the conversations about powerful men and their abuse of power. In its final moments, as soon as a hint of reality invades Prince Andrew: The Musical, the whole thing kind of falls apart, and made me look back at what I had just watched with horror that I had almost forgotten what Andrew has been accused of.
Prince Andrew: The Musical has a hollowness at its centre, that whilst we all laugh to silly dance moves and funny songs, the real Andrew hides away from scrutiny, relying on his family to shield him. It starts off as a funny piece of satire, but ends with the realisation that that very satire is part of a wider problem, our notion to quickly move on and treat it as a footnote in modern history.
The TV show acts as a shrug of the shoulders at the weight of Andrew’s life and relation to Jeffery Epstein. Instead of being either funny or serious, it chooses to do both, and as a result becomes a hollow reminder of the lack of progress we have made towards holding men like Andrew accountable.
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