Prince Andrew is the Queen of England’s second-born son, who is currently trying to defend his relationship with the convicted sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. By defend, I should correct myself and say he is currently trying to think of any plausible excuse for any questions he is asked. One must think, such a prestigious figure would have been prepared for his interview on Saturday night but nothing could have made him ready for the onslaught he faced on Saturday night by Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis.
You would have thought that the Royals would have learnt their lesson about the risk of television interviews from Prince Charles confessing his adultery on TV with Jonathan Dimbleby in 1994, and Princess Diana’s shocking interview with Martin Bashir in 1995. Prince Andrew seemed to want to join in. The question as to why is still on everyone’s minds, even Maitlis said she couldn’t believe they were allowing her to do the interview.
The Prince admitted, during the interview, to have been on Epstein’s private plane, island and home in Palm Beach but never struck him with suspicion. In 2006, Prince Andrew had invited Epstein to his daughter’s 18th birthday party, claiming he did not know an arrest warrant by Palm Beach Police had been issued – regardless of the royal family staff vetting the guests. He blames this on the British press never reporting it so he had no idea.
One of the main points the Prince uses to defend himself is that fact that he was never ‘close friends’ with Epstein. But then again, to break off their friendship after Epstein’s 2010 prison release required the prince to honour Epstein a visit in New York (and continue to stay for four days). The Prince did admit his ‘judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable’. He also seemed to minimalise everything Maitlis asked. Did he attend Epstein’s release party? No, it was a small dinner party. Does he regret his friendship? No, because of Epstein’s extraordinary ability to bring people together allowed for networking opportunities.
Throughout the interview, the Prince lacked any humanity or sympathy for Epstein’s victims. He strongly denied meeting 17-year-old Virginia Roberts who claimed she slept with Prince Andrew. Regardless of a photograph of them together, with Andrew’s arm around her waist, he claims the photograph could have been faked. He also calls Roberts an ‘unreliable witness’ as in her statement she claims Andrew ‘sweated profusely’. What excuse did the Prince think of in his state of panic? He had a medical condition… that he no longer has. He seemed to remember details of the meal at Pizza Express in Woking or the fact that he’d never been upstairs in Epstein’s girlfriend’s house in Belgravia, but he could not remember many nights he spent with Epstein with the ‘staff’ he was surrounded by.
Questions have arisen after Saturday’s interview. Why did he even do the interview? There was no pressing need for him to do it, the country has bigger issues on its mind at the moment, and the only results from the interview were more questions and a national discussion. Rumours for a second interview are already circulating. As the Royals are not democratically elected or appointed, Andrew cannot be sacked or removed and will (unfortunately?) always remain Prince, even if he has decided to step back from Royal duties.
Epstein’s ‘suicide’ joins Princess Diana on the list of suspicious deaths surrounding the Royals, although these claims will be left for the sceptics. There is a decrease in the popularity of Royals over the years as although the monarchy is supported by the majority of the respondents across all age groups, it is among over 55 year olds where the level is support is highest at 77%. The younger age groups are more likely to oppose the monarchy, with 25% of 18-24 year olds opposing it. Although it will probably not be within our lifetime in which the Royal family can no longer get away with being friends with paedophiles, public opinion is likely to have changed and will continue to do so with the developments of the investigation into Prince Andrew.
Although with this said, Prince Andrew said in a statement that he asked The Queen for permission to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future; action she agreed to support due to heavy criticism faced following the Newsnight interview.