Prince Andrew - Biography

Romantic rumour has pursued Prince Andrew ever since his schooldays at Gordonstoun. Famously nicknamed "Randy Andy" by the tabloid press, the divorced Duke of York has been linked to a stream of girlfriends, both before and after his ten-year marriage to Sarah Ferguson.

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A Falkland War veteran with a highly successful 20-year career in the Royal Navy, the second son and third child of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made his debut into the world at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 1960 - the first child to be born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Educated initially by a governess, he followed in the footsteps of his father and elder brother when, aged 13, he was enrolled at Gordonstoun in Scotland.

Andrew's naval career began in 1979, and he soon saw active service when, along with his squadron, he sailed for the Falkland Islands in HMS Invincible. After completing front line duty, he continued to serve in the Force until 1997, when he took up a desk job in the Ministry of Defence, finally retiring from the Navy in July 2001.

He married Sarah Ferguson, the down-to-earth redhead who had captured his heart, in Westminster Abbey on July 23, 1986, when the couple were awarded the titles Duke and Duchess of York. The Duke, whose relationship with photographer and former erotic film actress Koo Stark had caused much consternation within the Palace in the early Eighties, appeared to have finally settled down. He and Sarah had two children, Princess Beatrice in 1988 and, two years later, Princess Eugenie. The siblings are fifth and sixth in line to the throne.

In 1992, it was announced that Andrew and Sarah were to separate; the couple finally divorced in 1996. Loyally, Prince Andrew stuck by his exwife when she plunged into debt soon after the split, and has always proved himself to be her "bestest friend", as she once described him. The two remain extremely close, so much so that a year after their divorce, Sarah and their daughters moved back into the family home in Sunninghill Park where Andrew had continued to live.

Despite an extraordinary relationship with his ex-wife, the Prince, who hit the big four-oh in 2000, seems inclined to prove that life really does begin at 40. He has become quite a party animal on the London and Hollywood social scenes, enjoying dinner dates with a series of attractive women, and holidaying on the Thai island of Phuket with friends of Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of late disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell.

Following his naval retirement, the Duke of York took up a role as roving ambassador for British industry.

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