One of us?
Prince Andrew once again haunts the Royal Family. If the Windsors turn out to have a paedophile in their ranks, the Queen will need to cast out her favourite son or face the mass scorn of her subjects.
It’s been a good year for English republicans. In January the Queen’s 97-year-old husband, Prince Philip, was involved in a car crash, hospitalising the female driver of the commoner car; in June a police convoy escorting Prince William and his wife mowed down an 83-year-old woman. Also in June Prince Charles made a speech warning that ‘the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival’; in the previous 18 months, the Royal Family’s carbon footprint almost doubled. But a scandal now waits nervously in the wings which could make these gaffes look like putting in the milk before the tea at a Royal Garden Party, as the Queen’s favourite son stands accused of being far too friendly with a repeatedly proven paedophile.
After being responsible for allowing the most unsuitable woman since Mrs Simpson within sniffing distance of the throne, it was generally thought that Prince Andrew had learned his lesson and would keep his head down as he stomped around the globe claiming to be cutting crucial business deals for Britain - and also claiming such stratospheric expenses that he was nicknamed ‘Air Miles Andy.’ His relationship with his ex-wife seemed civilised; said to be ‘virtually inseparable’ they shared houses in England and Verbier. But if the stories now circulating about Prince Andrew’s dangerous closeness to Jeffrey Epstein are true, this may well have been less a case of spiritual soulmates and more of a situation where neither could easily find another soul as irretrievably corrupt as each other - like a thick version of the Clintons, also friends of Epstein’s.
The billionaire banker was first convicted of child sex offences in 2005, when he pleaded guilty to molesting a 14-year-old; in 2008 he was found guilty of procuring underage girls as prostitutes and jailed again. This month he was arrested for a third time, charged with the sexual trafficking of minors. One of his many rich and famous party guests was Prince Andrew - who one underage girl, Virginia Roberts, claimed had sex with her three times.
What is shocking about this case is that it is so easily to believe. The situation of all Royal family members except the actual monarch is so privileged and so parasitical that it’s often hard to tell if they are the prey or the hunter, the pimp or the pimped. Back in 2010, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife was caught on film promising access to him for a fictional businessman; asking for £500,000 to be wired to her bank account, she told the disguised reporter: ‘That opens up everything you would ever wish for…look after me and he'll look after you … you'll get it back tenfold.’ Though he claimed to know nothing of this, the fact that they still co-habit speaks volumes.
Though extremely wealthy, the British Royal Family are extraordinarily stingy, which leads them into taking endless *hospitality* from shady characters with more money than morals - and very big boats. The Windsors have a thing about yachts - they’ve ponced around on more of them than Duran Duran. The Queen herself received criticism for not crying at Diana’s funeral but weeping when the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned. Diana was far superior to the Windsors, but even she picked up enough of their bad habits to have spent her last days posing on a playboy’s yacht. So it wouldn’t be surprising if this over-privileged, under-employed man’s desire to live a hedonistic lifestyle proved stronger than all the lessons about duty from his mother.
To end on a positive note, it’s not remarkable that an idle member of a rich, entitled family becomes a friend of international whoremongers - it’s remarkable that more don’t. Though George IV and Edward VIII stand out in the recent history of the United Kingdom, the number of our dissolute princes is quite modest. But if it transpires that Prince Andrew has himself been involved in having sex with underage girls - with children - it will take more than another Royal wedding to put the gloss back on this cold, decadent ruling house, which in recent centuries has managed to pull off one of the greatest sleights of hand ever seen - passing for normal.
When society prized virtue, the Windsors were virtuous; as our moral fibre slackened enjoyably, so did theirs, which made them more likeable - look, they have divorces and eating disorders and wayward children, they’re just like us! But if they turn out to have a paedophile in their ranks, this will be revealed as just a cynical disguise - and the Queen will need to cast out her favourite son or face the mass scorn of her subjects. This could well be the best year for republicans yet.
Julie Burchill has been a published writer since the age of 17. She is now 60 and is a columnist at the Sunday Telegraph. Her hobbies are spite, philanthropy and learning Modern Hebrew.