On Thursday, Andrew officially stepped down as chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, a ceremonial role, after students lobbied for him to resign. The prince also resigned from his role as patron of the Outward Bound Trust, an educational charity that works closely with young people.
But Britain’s royal family is no stranger to explosive interviews. From Diana, Princess of Wales, to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, here’s a look at some of the most memorable moments in royal history.
When heir to the throne Prince Charles, 32, announced his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the couple met the press and discussed plans for their future. Diana, who was 19 at the time, smiled as she recalled first meeting Charles and said he was “pretty amazing.” The interviewer then questioned whether the two were “in love” to which Diana replied “of course,” as Charles replied: “whatever in love means.”
After years of rumors that all was not well between Charles and Diana, the couple announced their separation in 1992. Two years later, in an interview with British journalist Jonathan Dimbleby, Charles publicly admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, an admission that addressed all those tabloid reports regarding his private life and speculation over alleged infidelity in the marriage.
When asked whether he had tried to be “faithful and honorable” to his wife, Charles replied. “Yes, absolutely.”
“And you were?” Dimbleby asked.
“Yes,” a sheepish-looking Charles answered, before adding: “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
“He [Prince Charles] is not the first royal to be unfaithful. Far from it. But he is the first to appear before 25 million of his subjects to confess,” wrote Britain’s Daily Mirror at the time of the interview.
The prince’s admission stunned the nation and much of the world while reportedly angering his parents, Prince Philip and his mother, reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Results from a telephone poll hosted by British tabloid the Sun indicated that two-thirds of the callers felt the prince’s behavior had made him unfit to one day be king.
Diana, Princess of Wales
One year later, it was Diana’s turn. Her interview with journalist Martin Bashir was televised by the BBC and watched by an estimated 22.8 million people, and it gave Diana a rare chance to openly discuss intimate details of her tempestuous marriage — and rumors of Charles’s continuing attachment to his former sweetheart, Camilla Parker-Bowles.
When Bashir asked: “Do you think Mrs. Parker-Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?”
Diana answered: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” a quote that soon became one of her most famous.
Describing her mental health after the birth of her first son, Prince William, Diana said: “I was unwell with postnatal depression, which no one ever discusses, postnatal depression. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood and just very, very low in yourself.”
The princess also spoke to Bashir about self-harm: “Yes, I did inflict upon myself, I didn’t like myself,” she said, saying she had injured her arms and legs to try to process the internal pain she was feeling.
“I had bulimia for a number of years,” Diana also said, describing it as a “secret disease” and a “symptom of what was going on” in the marriage — “I was crying out for help.”
While open conversation around mental health and the monarchy has improved in recent years, with William and his brother Prince Harry openly discussing their own battles and encouraging others to do the same, for Diana to talk so openly about her struggles was a huge deal at a time when mental health was considered taboo — especially for a royal.
“It gave everybody a wonderful new label — Diana’s unstable and Diana’s mentally unbalanced. And, unfortunately, that seems to have stuck on and off over the years,” Diana said in the same interview.
The divorce was not finalized until 1996, and one year later Diana was dead in a Paris car crash at the age of 36.
Sarah, Duchess of York
Fast-forward a quarter century to another royal spouse, Sarah Ferguson, or “Fergie,” who married Charles’s brother Prince Andrew in 1986. Though they divorced 10 years later, they remained close. She memorably stormed out of a 2018 interview with “60 Minutes Australia” after unpleasant revelations.
The interviewer, Michael Usher, had put questions to her regarding a 2010 sting operation orchestrated by Britain’s News of the World tabloid that saw the duchess offer an undercover reporter posing as a foreign businessman access to Andrew for the sum of half a million pounds.
Sarah, Duchess of York, was recorded saying: “I can open any door you want, and I will for you,” before being exposed by the newspaper. “I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused. It is true that my financial situation is under stress however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment,” the duchess said in a statement at the time of the scandal.
Forced to listen to the recording again, Fergie rolled her eyes, shook her head before snapping “don’t try to trick me now” and then demanding “that bit” be “deleted,” before saying with exasperation, “what more can I say, what more can I say” and walking off set. “I’m just going to take five minutes,” she said before disappearing from view.
“Right,” Usher said perplexed and shrugging as he sat opposite an empty chair.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
If anything, these candid interviews over the years have revealed the impact of a life led under the harsh glare of the royal spotlight, even for the family’s newest additions. A raw documentary aired by British broadcaster ITV in October highlighted the struggle of Meghan Markle, who has battled for privacy and respect since she began dating Prince Harry in 2016.
While the documentary followed their tour of southern Africa alongside their firstborn child, Archie Harrison, it was gripping in its exploration of the couple’s life as newlyweds and new parents who are constant media targets.
More formally known as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan opened up for the first time about life as a new mother and what being under the ever-watchful eye of the notorious British tabloids has done to her mental health.
“I never thought that this would be easy,” Meghan said. “But I thought it would be fair,” in an excerpt from the interview that has been watched almost 30 million times on Twitter.
“It’s not enough to just survive something; that’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy,” she said.
The footage of Meghan speaking honestly about her struggles sparked an outpouring of online support, with thousands of people from around the world using the hashtag #Weloveyoumeghan.
The documentary also showed Harry’s emotional side as he revealed that losing his mother, Diana, is still “a wound that festers.”
While some of these royal encounters have triggered more sympathy than shock, the reverberations from Andrew’s unconvincing denials has roiled and appears to have damaged the image of the family.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams called Andrew’s interview “dreadful” and claimed his sit-down triggered “the most disastrous series of headlines for the monarchy since the tragic period of Diana’s death” largely because of Andrew’s “atrocious pomposity and snobbishness.”
Small wonder, then, at the more reticent approach to the press once practiced by the royal family’s minders in previous decades.
“The queen’s first press secretary Sir Richard Colville was known as the Abominable No-Man as he hated the press and regarded television as an instrument of the devil,” Fitzwilliams said.