Interviews with members of the Royal Family are extremely rare.

But, to mark his 50th birthday, Prince Andrew has given an exclusive interview to Sky News in which he talks about topics such as his 1996 divorce to Sarah Ferguson and bankers' bonuses.

Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, is the second eldest son, and third eldest child, of the Queen and Prince Philip. He is the younger brother of the Princess Royal and Prince Charles. And he is the father to Princess Beatrice, 21, and Princess Eugenie, 19, who are fifth and sixth in line to the Throne respectively.

For years, Prince Andrew has served his country commendably. He served in the Royal Navy for 22 years. He served onboard the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and was a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. It wasn't until 2001 that he left the navy.

The prince is now the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

At the time of his birth in 1960, Andrew was second in line to the Throne, but is now fourth in line (Prince Charles is first, Prince William is second and Prince Harry is third).

He married writer and film producer Sarah Ferguson in 1986 - the mother of Beatrice and Eugenie - but the couple spilt up ten years later. Sarah remains, though, the Duchess of York, and the two remain friends.

Princess Beatrice also took part in the interview. She calls her father "the best single dad in the world."

As part of his current job, Prince Andrew must jet around the world, and this has led to him being given the nickname "Air Miles Andy."

But he said: "In order to do what I do for the UK and for UK business, I have to travel. That's it."

Prince Andrew Speaks Of Marriage Breakdown

Sunday February 14, 2010
Sarah Hughes, Royal correspondent
Sky News

The Duke of York has told Sky News he is not convinced lessons have been learned from failed royal marriages, but that he will try to make sure his nephews Princes William and Harry avoid past mistakes.

In an interview to mark his 50th birthday, Prince Andrew spoke about the breakdown of his own marriage to Sarah Ferguson, who complained of feeling isolated and ill-prepared for the pressures of royal life.

"I would like to think that lessons have been learned because, my goodness, some lessons did need learning," he said.

"But memories sometimes can be quite short so it's a challenge.

"When it happens again with William and Harry, then I suspect there will be a lot of people like their father and their uncle making sure not necessarily that they're fully aware but that people around them are fully aware of the consequences of getting it wrong."

Despite their divorce, the Duke has maintained an extremely close relationship with his ex-wife. Sarah, Duchess of York, has described them as the "happiest unmarried couple" she knows.

She has a suite at his Windsor home, Royal Lodge, and they enjoy family holidays together with their two daughters, 21-year-old Beatrice and her younger sister Eugenie.

Fifth in line to the Throne: Princess Beatrice, 21, wants her father to find love

"We've had the most fantastic upbringing that we could possibly wish for," said Princess Beatrice.

"Divorce is not really a word at home. We have a cushion at home that says 'happiness is being married to your best friend' and really that's what they are.

"They are the best of friends and marriage - for other reasons - it wasn't really there, but when they come together they are so strong with what they believe and what they stand for that it's a great co-parenting organisation."

Businessman: Since leaving the Royal Navy in 2001, Prince Andrew has been Britain's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment

Beatrice says her father is the "best single dad" in the world, although she admits she would like him to find love again.

"It would be nice for him not to be single. But you know what, he's so lucky and the best thing about it is that I get him all to myself."

Family comes first for Prince Andrew, but his other great pride is the Royal Navy. He spent 22 years as a naval helicopter pilot and served on board aircraft carrier HMS Invincible during the Falklands war.

His nephew Harry also saw frontline duty in Afghanistan but the Duke of York believes it is unlikely William - as the future King - will be allowed to do the same.

Fourth in line to the Throne: The Duke of York spent 22 years in the Royal Navy, during which he fought in the Falklands War

"The fact that Harry was able to go to Afghanistan for however short a period, the effort that had to be made to get him there required a huge amount of cooperation particularly from the media and that was blown up, for want of a better phrase," he said.

Victorious: Prince Andrew returns from the Falkland Islands on board aircraft carrier HMS Invincible in 1982

"But to put the same conditions for William is a lot more difficult. I have eminent sympathy for him and I think that what he's doing in terms of flying for the Royal Air Force is absolutely fantastic.

"But I don't know. The simple piece of advice would be 'you should have joined the navy'," he joked.

Since leaving the navy nine years ago, the Prince has been the UK's special representative for international trade and investment, working with business and government.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who divorced Prince Andrew in 1996

He says he feels realistic but not yet optimistic about Britain's economic prospects and that in order to recover we need to stop bashing bankers and their bonuses.

Bonus culture not wrong says Prince

"If you want to attract talent, that's global talent, not just UK talent, then you've got to pay for it," he told me.

"Have we set ourselves the right way of reimbursing? I don't know. That's a question that I don't know the answer to. But I don't believe that bonus as a culture is wrong.

"I also think that we should stop vilifying the banks and the bankers. Not because they haven't done anything wrong - yes they have.

Sixth in line to the Throne: Princess Eugenie, 19, is Prince Andrew's other daughter

"But actually if we want to get ourselves out of the mess that we're in we've got to give them the opportunity and the conditions for them to be able to lend the money in order for the people who have been made redundant to get back into work.

"So it's counter-productive to bash them anymore, let's give them a chance to recover and actually deliver what money they have got into the community for us to be more successful."

His role means a lot of time spent jetting around the world and has led the tabloids to nickname him Air Miles Andy, something Prince Andrew accepts as a "fact of life".

"In order to do what I do for the UK and for UK business, I have to travel. That's it," he said.

"It's one of those unfortunate tags that one has to put up with.

"If you live in that goldfish bowl and you are a public figure then to a certain extent you've got to expect somebody to throw a stone and you've got to live with it."

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 14th, 2010 at 01:53 PM..