Prince Andrew’s interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis is widely being described as a disaster, but it was not that at all. Quite the opposite: It was a Christmas miracle come early for the way it exposed how power clings to its own and disdains anyone it considers unworthy.
Yes, it was a disaster for Andrew, and there are probably going to be some white knuckles clutching brandy glasses around the tree at Sandringham this year. But for the rest of us, it was like being invited to witness the ways that some wealthy and abusive men see the world. “Here I am with my influential buddies around the dinner table, and those girls over there – I’m not sure. Possibly they’re the help. Maybe they’re here to give us ‘massages.’ Or maybe they’re furniture. Who knows! And frankly, who cares?”
The Prince denies the accusations of VirginiaGiuffre, who says that in 2001, when she was 17, Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with his friend Andrew on three occasions. Ms. Giuffre is just one of dozens of Epstein accusers who say they were assaulted by the billionaire or his friends when they were teenagers, and were handed around like party favours.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady,” Andrew said about Ms. Giuffre’s accusations, although she remembers him in detail – the sweaty dancing at a London nightclub, the drinks he bought. There is a picture of them together in the house of Mr. Epstein’s girlfriend and alleged procurer, Ghislaine Maxwell. Andrew isn’t sure, but he thinks the photo might be doctored.
To be clear: The Prince says he had no idea his friend was bad news, even though, at the time of his death, Mr. Epstein stood accused by the state of New York with having “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., among other locations.” If I had a friend whose private plane was nicknamed the “Lolita Express,” I might stop answering his calls.
Andrew gave a very revealing answer when asked by Ms. Maitlis why he didn’t notice any suspicious activity in the various households where his billionaire friend kept strings of teenagers to sexually exploit. His response, essentially, was that he’s used to having various peons around doing his family’s bidding, and he isn’t always quite sure who they are. Ditto for his friend. ‘’I don’t wish to appear grand, but there were a lot of people walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. As far as I was aware, they were staff." In other words, just some background randos beneath his notice.
This fits neatly, if painfully, with Ms. Giuffre’s experiences as an abused teenager. She recently told 60 Minutes Australia: “You’re not even acknowledged as being alive or there or important or cared for or worried about in any way. None of those human emotions were attached to me when I was trafficked to Prince Andrew.”
Mr. Epstein allegedly preyed on girls who were poor and vulnerable, knowing their abuse would draw the least scrutiny. Some were as young as 14, according to the federal charges. Some were younger, according to Ms. Giuffre. All were considered less than human by the standards of the revered academics, politicians and entrepreneurs gathered to talk about really important things, such as science and technology, at one of Mr. Epstein’s famous salons.
Some of the institutes that took Mr. Epstein’s money, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have fallen under an uncomfortable spotlight. But nobody’s calling out an entire vile system that regards one class of people – wealthy men – as deserving any extractive pleasure they desire at the cost of another group – powerless young women and girls. Women who were invisible, until this point.
So really, we should thank Andrew for bringing these issues to light. Asked why he had stayed loyal to his sex-offender pal for so long, the Prince ruefully admitted, “My judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable.” It’s good to realize there is honour among gentlemen, even if one of them is assaulting children.
While Andrew failed to express sorrow over the plight of Mr. Epstein’s alleged victims, he did let viewers know that he didn’t regret the friendship, because many of the influential people he dined with in Mr. Epstein’s high-class dungeon “were actually very useful.” As I say, that interview wasn’t a disaster at all. It was actually very useful.
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