Prince Andrew and his notoriously limelight-shunning friend Jonathan Rowland discussed ways to covertly continue their business relationship “under the radar” in order to avoid publicity, per leaked messages from the time when when media reported that Rowland’s tycoon father had assisted Prince Andrew’s family financially.
The messages feature the pair’s conversations about how the Duke of York would be free to act “without much accountability” if the repercussions of financial controversy made him quit his role as the UK’s trade envoy.
“It never ends!!” Rowland gasped in his March 2011 letter to the Duke, as cited by the Daily Mail.
“I had Mail and Telegraph on all day. Just read the stories doesn't seem too bad all things considered. Told them you attended bank as Trade Envoy supporting a British owned business”, he continued.
“Thank you”, replied Andrew. “There is a real case of vindictiveness in this and I'm sorry for causing you trouble”, Andrew weighed in with an apologetic remark.
“Don't worry we are behind you”, Rowland wrote. “We just need to reinvent the relationship to circumvent these idiots”.
Later, the Duke asked for Rowland’s advice as to how he should approach the persisting crisis, and the friend suggested – four months ahead of the Duke’s resignation as trade envoy – that there were basically two ways to handle it:
“Lay low for a while carry on with less engagements and slowly build the profile back up”, he wrote, further elaborating:
“Avoid difficult people for a bit, we can always take messages, and play straight”.
Plan B was less conventional, though:
“Or you could put your Trade position to a national vote, you would win, and then carry on as normal as you have a public mandate”.
“I like your thinking!” Andrew exclaimed.
The first twist of the controversy around Prince Andrew dates back to 2011, when in February he ended up in the public crosshairs after media published the now notorious picture of Andrew with his arm around the bare waist of Virginia Roberts, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victim.
Interestingly, a couple of weeks later, media reported that Jonathan Rowland's father David had secretly helped pay off the Duchess of York's debts, with the revelation linking the names of the Duke to the Rowlands and shedding light on their arguably friendly relationship. Further questions were raised as media recalled that Andrew had opened the Rowland family’s private bank in Luxembourg.
After recently facing backlash over his ties with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his New York cell under suspicious circumstances while awaiting a new trial, Andrew, aged 59, was rejected as a patron in a string of charities.
Separately, his long-standing and greatly cherished project Pitch@Palace reportedly had to move out of its offices at Buckingham palace, while the Duke himself stepped down from his royal public duties.