Queen anger over ‘car crash’ Andrew interview

Verdict: One top lawyer called Saturday’s interview with Emily Maitlis “a catastrophic error”. © BBC

Does the British monarchy have a man problem? Philip, Charles and Harry have had damaging episodes. Now, Prince Andrew has linked the royal family on primetime TV with a convicted paedophile.

“I expected a train wreck. But that was a plane crash into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion…”

So said Charlie Proctor, editor of the website Royal Central, speaking of Prince Andrew’s attempt to clear his name on Newsnight this weekend.

“Excruciating,” said Dickie Arbiter, one of the Queen’s former press officers.

“A sign of his arrogance,” said Angela Levin, royal biographer.

The Queen never approved the interview. Palace staff are furious, says The Telegraph.

The withering criticism of the Duke of York (the Queen’s second son) started as a trickle but, by this morning, had built into a tidal wave.

Andrew let it be known he does not regret the interview. His friends say he addresses the issues with “honesty and humility”.

What did we learn?

1. Andrew refused to apologise for his friendship with the dead sex trafficker and paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, who he invited to his daughter’s 18th birthday party two months after Epstein was accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The reason he went to stay with him in 2010 — even after Epstein’s imprisonment — was that he was “too honourable” and wished to part company face-to-face.

2. He admitted to an ongoing friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s alleged procuress.

3. He implied that Virginia Giuffre (then known as Virginia Roberts) is lying. This is the woman who says she was forced to have sex with him while still a teenager. He said her claim that he sweated heavily in a nightclub was impossible because his sweat glands were damaged in the Falklands war.

4. He suggested that being “a royal” meant that he always wore a suit and tie, never indulged in public displays of affection and was so used to servants that he didn’t notice them.

Where will it lead?

On a practical level, Andrew might be banished from public life and referred to the police or the FBI to give evidence.

But, even more damagingly, most experts today believe that his horrified mother the Queen, her senior advisors, Prince Charles and his two sons will want to know who allowed Andrew to give the “car crash” interview.

They know that the spectacle of their son/brother/uncle — a thickset, privileged, unrepentant, 59-year-old, white male — broadcasting his lack of sympathy for the young women forced to work for his sex criminal friend has already dealt a heavy blow to the standing of “the firm”.

The fact that Andrew is still listed as a patron of the NSPCC on the royal family’s official website risks making a mockery of its work supporting good causes.

And they all know that the entire royal edifice is held together by public respect for one 93-year-old woman, the Queen.

Without her, the monarchy depends upon a line of males. And hasn’t it been the men in recent decades that have really let the side down?

Does the British monarchy have a man problem?

Off with his head

Clearly, say some. While the Queen, Anne, Diana, Kate and Meghan remain an inspiration, the men are mostly awful. As season two of The Crown showed, Philip is rumoured to have had affairs. Charles admitted adultery on TV in 1994 and supported paedophile Bishop Peter Ball. Harry wore Nazi fancy dress in 2005. Now, Andrew has detonated another mine.

Think for yourself, say others. Andrew may be right: a bit of a clot perhaps, but Epstein may have set him up. He deserves sympathy for that. Philip is now a steadfast consort. Charles is a moral and thoughtful man with his second wife. Harry should be allowed some youthful mistakes. And William, a future king, has not put a foot wrong. This ugly rush to judgement must be resisted!

You Decide

  1. Are we too judgemental these days?
  2. Is the current crop of royal men awful (apart from William)?

Activities

  1. Listen to Andrew’s interview highlights on the Expert Links. Write down three extra questions that you think Emily Maitlis should now ask him.
  2. “Never complain. Never explain” is supposed to be the Queen’s private motto. What do you think of it? Write a private motto for yourself and then explain in 300 words why you like it.

Some People Say...

“I would love to see Prince Andrew submit to an interview under oath with the investigating authorities. Talking to the media doesn’t quite cut it. Statements that are not under oath carry little weight.”

Jack Scarola, lawyer for Virginia Giuffre

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
In 2011, a photo was published that Virginia Giuffre said was taken in 2001 and showed Prince Andrew standing beside her in a London apartment with his arm wrapped around her bare waist, with Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, standing in the background. Maxwell, a British socialite, has been named by many of Epstein’s accusers as an active participant in recruiting young women, some of them under the legal age of consent, for him to groom, traffic and exploit. She is a friend of Andrew.
What do we not know?
Whether we should believe Prince Andrew in the TV interview. On one point alone, Andrew was repeatedly, defiantly, unswervingly certain. “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he said of Giuffre. Moments later he added, “I’ve no recollection of ever meeting her.” A few questions later he replied, “I don’t know if I’ve met her but, no, I have no recollection of meeting her.”

Word Watch

Jeffrey Epstein
He was a financier arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. He was denied bail ahead of his trail and died while in jail. His death has been officially ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner, though a pathologist hired by Epstein’s brother claims it may have been a murder.
Ghislaine Maxwell
The youngest child of publishing tycoon and fraudster Robert Maxwell. She moved to the US after her father’s death in 1991 and became a close associate of the financier and subsequently convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
Procuress
A woman who obtains girls and women for the arrangement of sex with a customer.
Virginia Giuffre
Then called Virginia Roberts, she has said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew between 2001 (when she was 17) and 2002, in London, New York and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
The firm
Another way of describing the royal family, often used by palace servants and insiders.
NSPCC
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is a charity campaigning and working in child protection in the United Kingdom.

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