LONDON. Less than two months before a fairytale wedding anticipated by much of the world, Britain's royal family finds itself fighting an inconvenient distraction: revelations that prince Andrew, the queen's second son, is friends with a convicted sex offender, was photographed with a teenage prostitute, and has been accused of ties to Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime.
The duke of York also hosted son of the Tunisian dictator before a popular uprising drove him from power — and the buildup of embarrassment has sparked calls that he be stripped of his role as special UK trade representative.
Buckingham Palace is in damage control mode as it attempts to keep the public's focus on the April 29 wedding between prince William and tabloid favorite Kate Middleton. British officials have rallied to Andrew's defense. But pressure is mounting and there is growing speculation over how long Andrew can hang on to his post.