Prince Andrew: foot in mouth
Submitted by George Callaghan…
His Royal Highness gave a very rare interview to the BBC a few days ago. The subject of the interview was his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegation of rape against HRH. As a roving ambassador for trade it was the prince’s job to cultivate people like Epstein.
Allegations against Prince Andrew go back several years. These stories refuse to go away. Epstein died in August. It might have been suicide, it might have been murder. But with Epstein dead the most high profile said to be involved in this scandal is the prince. The prince seems to have believed that if he submitted himself to a full and gruelling interview he could rebut the accusations against him. He would have been seen to be candid and this would redound to his favour. His previous stratagem of not speaking about the allegations did not seem to be paying off. Statements were released by Buckingham Palace on his behalf but the man himself did not address the allegations of criminality.
Epstein was invited to Windsor Castle on more than one occasion. He was there as the boyfriend of Ghislaine Maxwell. The prince was moronic by not saying he rued his friendship with Epstein. The prince said he did not regret it since Epstein allowed him to meet other key financiers. That might be true but it went against the purpose of the interview which was to improve the prince’s image. As a prince he can meet almost anyone anyway.
The duke gets on better with military officers than his brothers. He has been in the armed forces longer than his brothers. As a naval officer he is bluff and unspun. He is also tactless. The man is no scholar but nor is he blessed with commonsense. He is sometimes pigheaded.
Did his PR team advise him to do it? People who have worked in royal public relations say he would have been urged not to do it. If despite the pleadings of experts he went ahead then he is rash in the extreme. He is said to be a man of Olympian arrogance. Like Epstein he is said to be guilty of entitlement, folly, a sense of impunity and invulnerability.
Having decided to embark on such an interview one would not wish to be a hostage to fortune. Therefore he would need media training. It does not look like he had any. Did he anticipate the line of questioning? It would not be hard to do. Did he rehearse answers? Perhaps he did. If so it was a very feeble effort.
Hats off to the prince for having the valour to deal with the questions. This was a no holds barred interview. No preconditions were imposed or asked. Emily Maitlis of the BBC interviewed him in a courteous but probing manner. Perhaps it was deliberate to choose a woman not a man to question the duke.
The prince’s goal was to deal with the allegations head on. He could then clear the air. Then he could get back to his charitable work. He was a roving ambassador for British commerce for years and did sterling work. He is said to have gone weak at the knees when he met a billionaire or tyrant. They were like his ancestors in days of yore. His cosying up to such people provoked much opposition. But this is perhaps unfair. He was tasked with promoting UK trade. It therefore behoved him to forge an amicable relationship with such people. If that was unethical then the government should have advised him not to.
It is widely said by people in reputation management that the interview was nothing short of cataclysmic. The prince made a number of basic errors. Perhaps foremost he failed to evince the slenderest sympathy of the alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein. That ought to have been his opening line. He set off on the wrong foot. The principal thing for the prince ought to have been the alleged victims and how sorry he feels for these woman.
He needed to say he was disgusted by what Epstein did. To do so might have been a throat clearing. There is only one person whom Epstein is known to have ill-used. This girl was 14 when she was paid to perform a lapdance for Epstein. Various other women accused him of doing things to them in many cases when they were underage. I have no idea he was guilty or not. He died innocent of the other allegations. On the balance of probabilities at least a few of these allegations must be true. Even a pro forma expression of compassion for the suffering of these woman would have been apposite. It might have rung hollow but not to even attempt such an expression of empathy was a cardinal error. The prince compounded this grave mistake by not castigating Epstein in strong language. His use of the word ‘unbecoming’ in relation to Epstein was mealy mouthed. As it happens the prince has been accused of being very lose with his language and using expressions such as ‘the nigger in the woodpile’.
Prince Andrew boasts that he is an excellent single father. He knew that Jeffrey Epstein had been charged with sexually abusing a 14 year old. The prince still invited the man to meet his underage daughters. Was that rash? The prince clearly trusted his friends. Perhaps that reflects well on him but it is not acceptable to public opinion.
Let us assume that he duke is entirely innocent of any impropriety towards his accuser Victoria Giuffre (Roberts). He nonetheless remained in contact with Epstein for at least two years after the financier was found guilty of a sex crime. One could minimise it and note that Epstein did not have sex with the girl. It could have been that he genuinely believed her to have been of legal age at the time. But despite all that Epstein was guilty of a sexual offence. There is a certain honour in standing by your friends even when they are in the wrong. That is not defending immoral conduct. A person can say ”my friend has done something disgraceful and must pay the price for it but there are still good facets to his character.” However, in the case of the royal family it is not about personal honour. The reputation of the realm is at stake. Public opinion uniquely detests those who have sexual contact with minors. That being so the only savvy thing to do was to sever all links with Mr Epstein.
HRH went to New York in 2010 according to himself to inform Epstein that their friendship had to be terminated. He could have picked up the phone. The duke believed it meet to speak to the man in person. He could have spoken to J Epstein in a park or in a cafe or something. The duke chose to speak to the sex offender in Epstein’s house. It gets worse. The duke stayed in Epstein’s house for four days. Anyone with any media sense would be aware that this would play very badly. He is certainly guilty of an appalling lack of judgment. What about his advisers? Was the prince ill-advised? Or was he soundly advised only he chose to disregard sage counsel?
Members of the British royal family usually stay in the British Consulate in New York when they visit the city. It is on the same street as Epstein’s house! Choosing to stay with Epstein suggests that this was not really ending the friendship. If he wanted to terminate his friendship he could have picked up the phone. ‘I will never speak to you again! Can I come to stay for four days?’ Does that make sense?
A number of allegations were put to Prince Andrew in the interviewer. He said he does not recall meeting his accuser. Notably he did not claim that he never met her. He left open the possibility that he had met her only he had forgotten. According to Miss Giuffre the last occasion they met was 16 years ago. The royal could easily have forgotten her in that time.
The photo which supposedly shows the duke with his arm around Miss Giuffre has been analysed. It is inconclusive whether it is authentic or a hoax. The older woman in the background smiling on is Ghislaine Maxwell. This woman has been accused of procuring underage girls for J Epstein.
The duke rebutted the allegations against him with a number off strange statements. Giuffre recalled him perspiring a great deal. He claimed that he did not perspire for decades after 1982. This would be a very, very unusual condition. Does he have medical records to confirm it? His explanation is that this odd condition was caused by too much adrenaline during the conflict. Sweat is not usually caused by adrenaline. We all perspire all the time – only the amount varies. Many photos have been published showing the prince from the mid 1980s until recent years perspiring.
HRH said he always wore a jacket and tie when socialising in London. Plenty photos prove that to be bogus. It was an asinine and easily disprovable lie. He has cut his own throat by his continual telling of porky pies.
The prince claimed that he never engages in public displays of affection. Many photos have been published of him hugging women in public. There is nothing unethical about him expressing affection in public. The point in these photos blow his claim out of the water.
The Pizza Express alibi does not make sense. He was there in Woking at 4 pm. This is why he could not have been in Tramp’s nightclub. Tramp’s does not open until 10 pm! It takes an hour to drive at that time of night.
Police logs might show where the police and when. If these exonerate the prince why have these not been released? Perhaps because the logs do not exonerate the prince.
The date when he allegedly has intercourse with the woman is a day he said he had dinner at a pizzeria in Woking. How curious that he remembers it so lucidly. Of all the days in his life why does this one stand out? How handy that he can recollect it so clearly. It must have been unique for the pizzeria to host a prince. Do they remember?
There was said by Andrew to be a rule that either he or his ex wife was with his daughters at any time. However, the media have proven that there were times when neither of them was there. Moreover, they both went to boarding school. At the time in question they were aged 14 and 16.
The claim that the prince stank of alcohol is not believable. He is well known not to drink. What the woman said about reeking of booze is almost certainly a lie. This impugns her credibility.
There are royal protection officers who are with him all the time. They could attest where he was and what he did or did not. But they are not in the room all the time. Mostly they are just outside.
At the end the interviewer asked the man if he wished to add anything. He missed this golden opportunity to voice his abhorrence at what Epstein had done and to say how sorry he felt that girls had been subjected to such vile crimes. It might have been disingenuous but it needed to be said if this interview was going to do anything for the prince’s reputation. He has fumbled the situation very badly.
The interview was agonising to watch. I say that as a royalist. Granting this interview is the most foolish thing the prince has ever done. He may well have torpedoed himself. The interview poses more questions than it lays to bed. The FBI may ask to speak to him. As he was accused of committing rape in the UK why have the British Police not spoken to him? Miss Giuffre may not have gone to the UK Police as such but her allegations have been publicly known for years. The failure of the British Police to interview the duke adds to the sense that there is an establishment coverup.
Unsurprisingly his ex wife Sarah Ferguson sprang to his defence. The two have a very cordial relationship. He has bailed out the shopaholic on several occasions.
The duke has shown himself to be very lacking in commonsense. He has patently mishandled this very badly. It must be hard to show your face in public with such allegations hanging over you. He has brought the House of Windsor into disrepute. This ill-judged interview may prove to be the end of his public career.
The public statement put out by the prince on 20 November said the right thing. But it was too late. He was presumably heedless of sound PR advice earlier. The first rule of PR is to project a positive image. The prince seems not to have given any thought to what that entailed for him.