The Royal Family badly needs Winston. Winston Wolfe, that is. He solves problems. Unfortunately, the scandal engulfing the Duke of York will require more than splatter-covering blankets, a hose-down and the stellar disappearance services of Monster Joe’s Truck and Tow. First, a partial defence of Prince Andrew: I don’t believe for a minute he is or was a “pedophile.” This is a word with a very specific clinical meaning which the media, for their own malicious purposes, has successfully mainstreamed as a synonym for perpetrators of any alleged sexual crime or misdemeanor involving the under-aged. Andrew is a narcissistic, pompous, super-entitled knucklehead and buffoon but he is no child-molester.
The girl in the notorious photograph – an alleged “sex-slave” of kingpin pervert Jeffrey Epstein – was 17 at the time. That doesn’t mean she was fair game by any means but she was not a small child. Words – especially for prosecutable enormities of the criminal law – matter. As for the picture, it proves nothing and its provenance and authenticity are questionable.
Now for the prosecution. If Andrew was set up he only has himself to blame for fraternising with a man of such malodorous character. Like his ex-wife, the Duchess, Andrew is a known fruit fly (old slang for somebody who habitually buzzes around the wealthy). That’s unremarkable for minor British aristocrats – or minor Australian princesses from the House of Keating for that matter. We know most of the former are all coronet and no cattle. But it is remarkable, grubby conduct in the second son of the Queen.
Surely Andrew was counseled by the intelligence officials who protect the Crown’s reputation to stay away from Epstein. If not, why not? Agreeing to a clear-the-air interview was also foolish. He was always going to be himself, alas. His PR handlers banked on it. After all, only an innocent man would be so nonplussed about somebody else’s crimes, right? That seems to have been the thinking. In a more rational age, maybe. In the age of feelings and phony vicarious culpability, however, the response of commentators was entirely predictable. This time – loathsome hypocrites many of them may be – they’re right. He associated with one of the worst sex molesters of our time. “I let the side down,” is a long way from good enough.