Queen ‘put Cameron on the spot’ over media intrusion of Prince Andrew’s family

Prince Andrew and the Queen in happier times

A front-page piece in today’s Independent on Sunday confirms and enlarges upon the Duke of York hacking story broken by The Slog on March 2nd this year. The piece aserts that ‘Prince Andrew’s daughters are among latest high- profile figures said to be victims of News International’s illegal activities’.

But things may be relatively safe for the Murdoch empire in this particular instance, as Prince Andrew told staff recently that he had ‘no intention of being completely frank’ about the matter. It seems the Duke of York restricted himself to an irate audience with the Queen shortly after a Times page 3 piece featuring criticisms from ‘senior diplomats’ appeared in late February 2011. The article focused on the subject of Prince Andrew’s alleged shortcomings as a trade envoy. The piece, by Valentine Low and Michael Savage, asserted that Prince Andrew could soon be stripped of his trade envoy duties by David Cameron.

It is, however, alleged by sources that at their next weekly catch-up, the Queen gave Cameron something of a carpeting about the piece – appearing as it had done in a Newscorp title, and using Cameron’s name to suggest he had approved it. She later bestowed upon her son a major gong – almost certainly as a way of telling the press harrying Andrew to butt out.

The Prime Minister’s office made a point of dismissing the Times story later that day. It was also notable that – possibly on Number Ten’s orders – the following few days featured more pro-Andrew witnesses in Times articles.

The feud between the Yorks and Newscorp goes back to Princess Eugenie’s Asian holiday in 2009, when details of her intention to continue the break after a mugging attempt promptly appeared in a Sun scoop. It is alleged that at this point, the Princess had only confirmed her intention by mobile phone.

For reasons as yet unclear, the Barclay Brothers controlled Telegraph Group also ran a concerted camapign aimed at Prince Andrew during February and March this year. The Slog ridiculed the use of obscure diplomat Stephen Day during the hate-campaign in a piece that attracted record approval ratings.