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Prince Andrew scandal is yet another case of celebrity endorsement gone wrong

The only difference, of course, is that in this instance, the wayward Prince is endorsing the country.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag in as much as large parts of the UK press are cheerfully airing dirty linen about Prince Andrew that they’ve known about and sat on for years it looks unlikely that the former Navy helicopter pilot (his only real achievement) will be able to stay in his job as the UK’s unofficial trade envoy.

The job is officially unpaid but allows HRH to jet around the world making the acquaintance of numerous extremely rich people who are there to help out where required, by buying his former house for £3m over the asking the price for example and, in the case of his friend, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, bunging wife the Duchess of York £15,000 to pay off some of her debts.

So he’ll certainly miss the job (unpaid or not) if he has to resign it.

But celebrities (and the only reason Andrew has the job is that he’s a member of the celebrity Royal Family) are dangerous sometimes, as the likes of Gillette can testify in the case of Tiger Woods and numerous sponsors can in that of Wayne Rooney.

One might also wonder if the country actually needs globe-trotting non-industrialists to promote British industry. Especially if, like Andrew, the movers and shakers they pal up with range from discredited members of undemocratic ruling families to gun runners.

UK PM David Cameron’s spokesman said today that he has every confidence in Andrew and he also received a fairly cool measure of support from foreign secretary William Hague over the weekend.

Business secretary Vince Cable was more non-commital, saying that continuing in the job was a matter for the Prince. But Cable is trying to stay out of the spotlight following his gaffe when he told undercover reporters that he’d “declared war on Rupert Murdoch.”

Cameron is probably quite happy to see attention focus on Andrew after his own gaffe in paying a diplomatic visit to Egypt whilst engaged flogging arms around the rest of the Middle East.

In truth Andrew was always an accident waiting to happen, lacking both brains and judgement but possessed of an overweening sense of entitlement.

In these circumstances, when lumbered with a misbehaving celebrity, most companies would quietly allow the contract to lapse as soon as decently possible.

Which is what will almost certainly happen to Andrew (unless the scandal takes an even racier turn).

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David Cameron Duchess of York Jeffrey Epstein Prince Andrew Tiger Woods trade envoy Vince Cable Wayne Rooney William Hague

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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