November 18, 2019 17:04:29
As Prince Andrew put it, although “not wanting to sound grand”, he’s surrounded by hundreds of staff and courtiers in his daily life at Buckingham Palace.
- Prince Andrew declined to say he regretted his association with Jeffrey Epstein
- Epstein was a billionaire paedophile who was convicted of sexual offences
- The Royal has denied allegations that he had sex with a trafficking victim multiple times
Surely most are struggling to make eye-contact with him now, after he gave an hour-long interview to the BBC that veered from excruciating to bizarre.
It was supposed to be a sit-down interview to draw a line under months of critical coverage of his friendship with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
It did the opposite; the Duke of York came across as devoid of any self-awareness when he insisted it was “convenient” and “honourable” to stay at Epstein’s home even after the New York financier was convicted of sex crimes.
He admitted it was wrong, but couldn’t bring himself to say he regretted his association with Epstein, which spanned over a decade.
“The reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful,” he said.
No doubt Epstein’s many victims regret ever encountering him — women have testified that he ruined their lives.
Virginia Giuffre said she was groomed by Epstein as a teenager, and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions.
The unflappable host of Newsnight, Emily Maitlis, spent much of the interview zoning in on those allegations, which the Duke of York has always vehemently denied.
On one of the dates Ms Giuffre has cited — 10 March, 2001 — Prince Andrew said he could not have been with Ms Giuffre as he had taken his daughter to Pizza Express in Woking in Surrey.
An unusual location for a Royal, he suggested with a slight smile, and one he’d remember frequenting.
He dismissed claims he was sweating profusely on the evening, because he had a “peculiar medical condition” making him unable to perspire, caused by an overdose of adrenaline when he was shot at during the Falklands War.
‘The Queen’s motto is: don’t complain, don’t explain’
This was just one awkward moment among dozens in an interview which painted the 59-year-old as disastrously out of his depth, and entirely out of touch with the times.
The Royals rarely give interviews of this nature, no doubt because it fuels the fury of people across the Commonwealth who question the worth of such an institution.
Royal biographer Angela Levin described the interview as “ill-judged” and “a sign of his arrogance”.
“The Queen’s motto is: don’t complain, don’t explain. I think in her heart she will be extremely embarrassed,” she told the BBC.
Not since Princess Diana spoke to Panorama in the 1990s has the nation paused in such a way to watch such a revealing interview with a member of the Royal family.
Of course, these were compelling interviews of a very different nature — Princess Diana’s infamous sit-down detailed the way in which she had been treated by her husband and his family.
Prince Andrew’s foray will be remembered differently indeed.
What is clear is that the Duke of York wanted to use the opportunity to detail his denials in relation to a series of deeply concerning allegations — as his right.
‘Too stupid to even pretend concern’
But it was the lack of empathy on display for the victims of Epstein which has been the sharpest point of criticism among viewers and the press.
In the #MeToo era, when women of all walks of life are increasingly speaking out about incidents of abuse they have suffered, it seemed a startling omission to not mention one’s concern for the teenage victims of Epstein.
Epstein, who took his own life in August, was facing charges related to sex trafficking minors.
“A lot of us were in very vulnerable situations and in extreme poverty, circumstances where we didn’t have anyone on our side,” said one victim.
The British Government estimates thousands of young women are trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation — Prince Andrew’s daughter, Princess Eugenie, champions support for the victims.
Catherine Mayer, the founder of the new Women’s Equality Party in the UK, said the Duke of York was “too stupid to even pretend concern for Epstein’s victims.”
“Andrew says ‘he let the side down’. It’s a revealing phrase. He cares about the reputational damage to the monarchy, to himself.
“What sign is there of any contrition or even recognition of the damage wrought by Epstein?” she asked.
‘Unbecoming? He was a sex offender’
As the interview neared its conclusion, came a moment which neatly summarised the entire encounter, filmed on Thursday.
“Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes,” Prince Andrew said, as though Epstein had simply arrived at Balmoral in the wrong slacks for a shooting party.
“Unbecoming? He was a sex offender,” an astonished Emily Maitlis countered.
The pre-recorded interview was the result of months of negotiations, and the BBC said it was the Queen who gave the final sign-off less than a week ago.
It’s not clear whether Her Majesty was able to watch the interview before it aired, perhaps she may have rescinded her permission had she seen the result.
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November 18, 2019 07:08:41
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