JAN MOIR: So much for the honour that Prince Andrew loved to boast about
Sir Tom Stoppard’s new play opened in London at the weekend, his first for five years. Leopoldstadt is an epic work, the story of a Jewish family who prospered in Vienna at the dawn of the 20th century.
As history and the dread-filled audience know, their good fortune is not going to last. Stoppard’s drama traces their fate over the next 55 years, through war, revolution, impoverishment and the Holocaust.
The powerful themes explored will be much discussed elsewhere, but there is one tiny moment towards the end of the play that concerns us here.
One character is extolling the virtues of life in England, including cricket, picnics on beaches, the Houses of Parliament. ‘And the Royal Family,’ he adds.
US lawyers are claiming that despite his assurances last year that he is ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency’, the Duke of York (pictured) has provided ‘zero co-operation’ with their ongoing inquiries
On Saturday night, the audience roared with laughter at the very idea that the modern Windsors could be held up as an upstanding exemplar of all that was good and admirable about this country.
On Monday night, when I saw the play again, the reaction was more of a deep, scornful snigger that rippled from the stalls to the circle and back again.
However both responses had one thing in common – open derision.
Of course, two London audiences do not a consensus make and the Royal Family are not quite a national laughing stock – yet. But if the current ruinous narrative continues, surely that day cannot be far off?
Prince Andrew pictured with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Central Park in New York in 2011
The travails of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are damaging enough, as the idealistic dim bulbs bravely shake off the suffocating bonds of royalty so that they can make a bomb from their royal connections without any pesky interference from Buckingham Palace – and escape media attention by taking refuge on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Lesser royals flogging milk to China and teacups to saucer-eyed gullibles further dilute the ermine allure. However the real problem, the biggest poopsie in the royal punch bowl, is undoubtedly the Queen’s second son and first-rate calamity magnet. We need to talk about Andrew.
What playwright would ever dare dream up a character like Prince Andrew, the ongoing Windsor open sore, the red raw callus on the palace?
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stood outside Epstein’s New York mansion and accused the Queen’s son of failing to respond to requests by the FBI and US prosecutors for an interview over his friendship with the paedophile financier
This week’s ongoing drama stars the American prosecutors who are making investigations into the conduct of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his circle, primarily to see if young women were trafficked for sexual purposes.
The US lawyers are claiming that despite his assurances last year that he is ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency’, the Duke of York has provided ‘zero co-operation’ with their ongoing inquiries. In other words, he gave his word but hasn’t acted on it.
As this tawdry scandal moves into its second act, Prince Andrew still denies the allegations of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims that as a 17-year-old girl who worked for Epstein, she was forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions in 2001 and 2002.
As this tawdry scandal moves into its second act, Prince Andrew still denies the allegations of Virginia Roberts Giuffre (pictured)
Terrible for her, mortifying for the royals and utterly exhausting for the Queen. Just as HM must have thought she had put the worst of the last few months behind her, here comes more trouble in the form of a posse of gunslinger US lawmen galloping over the hill, twirling their pistols and demanding a showdown.
Do you know what Prince Andrew’s problem is? According to his own lights, he has ‘a tendency to be too honourable’. That is what he told Emily Maitlis in his disastrous Newsnight interview back in November, when he tried to explain his continued friendship with Epstein after the latter had been jailed for sex offences.
Listen everyone. Listen to his excuses. Andrew wasn’t stupid or doltish or foolish, oh dear me no. He wasn’t a walking patsy who blundered into the dark lives of bad men, unseeing and uninterested in anything except his own gratification.
Accuser: Virginia Roberts pictured with Andrew in London when she was 17 in 2001
He wasn’t a useful idiot whose very presence gave a sheen of royal respectability to sordid events. He was merely being honourable to a friend, don’t you get that?
One wonders if the Queen gets it, too – or if her iron resolve is finally weakening when it comes to protecting her bumbling son.
For since the FBI have started their investigations, Prince Andrew has apparently been missing in action – and that is most definitely not what one would expect from a man of honour.
Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for his dereliction of duty. Perhaps he has an appointment or two at the Woking branch of Pizza Express, with extra sauce on his every order.
Perhaps he is busy on a course of sweat gland therapy, to encourage those recalcitrant war-torn ducts back into full working order.
Yet even Prince Andrew cannot hide from his destiny forever – and surely a man of honour like him would not even want to? After all, an honourable person would resist injustice.
An honourable man would make himself available. Most of all, an honourable man would not mind the adverse consequences he might personally face in his efforts to discover the truth and expose any wrongdoing that might have befallen others.
And if Prince Andrew doesn’t want the laughter from the stalls to engulf his whole family, he should embrace that honour soon. Before it is too late for all of them.
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