The best part of 20 years ago I recall catching a snippet of a ‘documentary’ about perma-tanned harpies preying upon young footballers at the kind of social gatherings that so excite the authors of online headlines. None of those interviewed on camera expressed any signs of victimhood and were fairly brazen re their intentions when approaching said sportsmen. Not that they were a new breed, mind; had they been around 30 or 40 years earlier they’d have behaved the same around rock stars, who were the footballers of their day. Rock mythology of the 1960s & 70s is abundant with the user-names of groupies who were as much a fixture in the hotel rooms of the era’s musical aristocrats as the TV set poised to be hurled through the window; even though their roles reduce them to anecdotal footnotes in the overall story of cultural conquest, it’s something they themselves don’t appear unduly concerned about (if their kiss-and-tell autobiographies are to be believed, anyway).
Uncomfortable as it may be for contemporary commentators to accept, the fact is that some young women in their late teens and early 20s are predatory when it comes to famous, wealthy men – however physically unattractive, charmless and retarded such men might be. They take the commonplace craving for a man who will provide them with financial security to the max, pursuing their intended target with a ruthless determination that says as much about their own absence of probity as it does the moral compass of their intended. Therefore, should anyone really be surprised that the prospect of sleeping with a member of the British Royal Family might be regarded as an impressive notch on the bedpost of such a character? The sob story of Virginia Giuffre is a case in point.
Had any genuine non-consensual sex between the-then 17-year-old American and the Prince taken place, one assumes no out-of-court settlement would have sufficed; said ‘victim’ would have rejected a monetary package and would have demanded her day in court, to prove once and for all that she had been subjected to a bona-fide sexual assault for which the perpetrator being named and shamed was belatedly punished. As we all now know, however, Ms Giuffre (or her legal representatives) has accepted a payment from the Duke of York amounting to between £7.5 and £12 million. The result of this field day for the legal profession is that both parties can claim a hollow victory – Ms Giuffre playing the ‘MeToo’ card and receiving a pay-out that implies her alleged abuser has something to pay out for, and Prince Andrew sweeping the whole sordid business under the carpet with a handsome donation to the Giuffre hush fund.
It’s telling that the main topic to arise from the entire grubby affair is the source of the settlement paid out by the Queen’s favourite child. Ever since his ill-advised TV grilling by Emily Maitlis in 2019, Prince Andrew has undergone a humiliating financial dressing-down; his days as a ‘working royal’ came to an abrupt end following his televised summit meeting with the ‘Newsnight’ hostess, when his delusional arrogance was exposed to the nation and his numerous military titles were quietly removed as a consequence. The truth of his association with the disgraced, deceased pederast (not paedophile, despite the MSM’s tiresome assertion) Jeffrey Epstein has forced him into a grovelling apology, publicly disassociating himself from the glorified pimp and his effective ‘Igor’ Ghislaine Maxwell in order to save his own skin. The fact that his equally desperate ex-wife Sarah Ferguson has done likewise as she attempts to distance herself from the man who loaned her £15,000 in 2012 to pay off a debt amounts to jack shit in the eyes of HM’s subjects, who are being encouraged to feel aggrieved that their taxes are being spent to bail out Brenda’s son. And Andrew’s own income doesn’t necessarily paint a portrait of penury.
His Sunninghill Park Windsor residence – a wedding present from Her Majesty in 1986 – was sold-off through an offshore trust courtesy of the good old British Virgin Islands for £15 million in 2007; he also receives a Royal Navy pension of something in the region of £20,000 a year as well as a stipend from the Duchy of Lancaster revenues. However, the fact his post-Maitlis reduction in income (a loss of around £250,000) has cost him dear perhaps leads to speculation that Brenda herself will have to raid the piggy bank in order to cover Andrew’s legal fees and/or expenses for dining out with his daughters in Woking. Of course, the Queen’s income itself is a well-documented and endless source of fascination for Fleet Street; the thought that Brenda might be forced to root around her purse to fund Andrew’s pay-off to Virginia Giuffre is something which we are supposed to be getting hot under the collar about, though I suspect we’ve all known individuals whose mothers routinely come to the rescue of when indiscretions committed by their precious boys need burying. A current ITV series on the Krays has served as a reminder of how some mums will always turn a blind eye to their offspring’s activities if they contradict the perfect picture the matriarch cherishes in her head.
Mind you, Brenda has enough to worry about where her ageing sprogs are concerned; the first media missive launching her Platinum Jubilee year may have been an attempt to finally lay to rest any lingering Cult-of-Diana resistance regarding the late Saint’s replacement in the marital bed, yet any concessions to Queen Camilla have been somewhat overshadowed this week by the news that police are embarking upon a ‘cash for honours’ investigation into Brian’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. His ex-valet was chief executive of the Foundation until last November, when he was reported for allegedly having offered an honorary knighthood to a Saudi citizen. Although HRH is not directly involved with the running of the charity, the news that Inspector Knacker is investigating an organisation of which he is president – under the Honours (Preventions of Abuses) Act 1925 – means another unsavoury story encircling a leading member of the House of Windsor threatens to deflect attention from Brenda’s 70 years on the throne.
In some respects, reaching an out-of-court settlement means ‘the firm’ will be spared the further embarrassment that would undoubtedly have arisen had the Duke of York been let loose in a US courtroom. His old man certainly couldn’t be relied upon to avoid saying the wrong thing in public, but Andrew’s capacity for putting his foot in it is now recognised as even more potentially disastrous. The Emily Maitlis interview was a sublime example of just how clueless he is when it comes to the huge divide between his own perception of himself and how he is perceived by the general public. From the pizza anecdote to the claim he is incapable of sweating, Andrew’s attempts to salvage a reputation damaged via his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein failed spectacularly and reduced him to a laughing stock. The fact he expressed no regrets over the Epstein connection during the Maitlis interview – something he has now finally backtracked on – didn’t help either.
As Ghislaine Maxwell is left to rot in gaol as the sole can-carrier for Epstein’s sex-trafficking empire, Prince Andrew may have evaded a similar fate, yet his association with such a sleazy pair is something that has not only cost him (or his ma) financially; it has also fatally scarred him as a public figure probably for life now. A token offer of a donation to support victims of sex trafficking has been received with both scepticism and outright opposition by charities, though Andrew’s advisers have no doubt viewed such a gesture as one of the few remaining avenues with the faint prospect of redemption left open to him. But it’s too late, anyway; the damage has been done and it seems pretty permanent. Even if he isn’t a ‘nonce’, the fact a sizeable chunk of the public now think of him as such is a belief from which there is no going back. If you come across as an already-unlikeable individual and then have that label attached to you, it’s pretty much over.
© The Editor