Well, just as I was starting to think all inspiration had dried up along came Prince Andrew. I have had a busy couple of weeks, distracted by the tedium of everyday existence, and it’s thrown onstupidity.com into a dry spell that I was beginning to think might never end. So thanks, Prince Andrew, you’re a real chum. You’re also an enormous fucking idiot. I mean, I am very handy when it comes to stupidity but Andy has really taken it to a new level. It was, as we know, already bad enough but that interview was something quite, quite special. And it made for the most tense, depressing, awkward and uncomfortable hour since Hitler’s wedding reception.
For a man who has spent most of his life having his judgement questioned Prince Andrew must have had at least one person on his side suggest that a full on TV interview might not be the way forward: and lo, that very person, his chief advisor, has quit because his advice clearly did not sit well with his boss. And remember that this isn’t just a case of questionable judgement (anyone is capable of that), this is about making huge mistakes after huge mistakes after huge mistakes and then just when the last mistake ends starting all over again. Prince Andrew died a little bit in that interview and in some ways it had to happen because the royal family can’t have their cake and eat it at every glittering banquet. Their flaws are ours to see. We pay them, we vote to keep them, we get to see the velvet cushion cover and the cheap, highly flammable stuffing. This is beyond seedy.
If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny, but once they delivered the back story you could tell that he was going to get a hiding to nothing. I’m not a fan of Emily Maitlis but they gave the job to the right person. She displayed a ruthless unflappability that would have made a serial killer proud and made her host look like a 12 year old being interrogated in the headmistresses office. Andrew was such a cock he even decided that Buckingham Palace would be the best place to hang himself (his friend Epstein preferred a prison cell), thus dirtying the family bed sheets even more.
He tried to play down the level of his friendship with poor little Jeffrey Epstein and yet decided to fly to New York just to tell him they couldn’t be friends anymore and he couldn’t come to play at his house. He seemed desperate to emphasise just how honourable he was through all this grubby to-ing and fro-ing but there really isn’t much to be honourable about when you’re dealing with a convicted sex offender. When Maitlis called him out over his description of Epstein’s behaviour as ‘unbecoming’ he apologised and just said that he was trying to be polite. Someone, just one someone should have mentioned in advance that you don’t need to be polite when you’re talking about a paedophile: it misses the bigger picture by several miles and seems about appropriate as criticising Jimmy Saville solely for his choice of jewellery.
Prince Andrew thought he could escape by claiming that he didn’t notice a lot of the things going on around him and even if he had he apparently also has an appalling lack of memory regarding almost anything he ever did in any of the scenarios placed before him. We should, I suppose, feel sorry for him: he has some terrible medical condition which means he cannot sweat and so could not possibly have been drenched with the stuff when he didn’t dance with a rather young girl in a nightclub. We should also feel for him because he had to invent some terrible story about him slumming it at a Pizza Express in Woking; an event he remembers very well because it is the sort of thing he would never usually do. It is especially the sort of thing he never really does because he probably didn’t do it. His failure to remember pretty much anything else but be crystal clear on his whereabouts that day seems astonishing. If it’s a lie and he goes on trial he’ll be asking his own daughter to lie for him too. How very honourable. Note: surely someone working at that restaurant would be able to confirm this event took place?! It’s the kind of thing other people would remember too.
He wriggled and squirmed and winced and pouted and frowned and chagrined for a full 50 minutes and Emily made it quite clear at every opportunity just how thoroughly disappointed she was with him. He would dart defensively, sometimes aggressively, into his answers and then pull back, realising just how terribly bad this all was and couldn’t he just smooth things over by being a daft, posh sod and pretend it was all just fun and games and he’s really just a rather nice chap who seems to have got caught in a spot of bloody bother. And sometimes he grinned, even laughed (nervous?) and you could tell he was altogether lost and realised this time he wasn’t getting off lightly. When we were kids my brother and I would lie as almost a default setting. All kinds of little lies to save us from getting in trouble: sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, but watching this episode of ‘It’s A Royal Fuck Up’ reminded me a bit of that. My parents never found it particularly endearing and I doubt Andrew’s parents do either.
I’d say this was about as gripping an hour of TV as you’ll see this year. Painful and toe curling and pubic hair straightening and always gripping. It was clear he had spent a lot of time getting his stories sorted but it was to no avail. This was a Gordian Knot too weighty to ever be unravelled and too tough to cut through. As an attempt to clear his reputation and do the family proud it was a fucking disaster of almost unmeasurable proportions. Perhaps he is innocent and just a bit daft and ‘too honourable’ but after this he seems even more grotty, and more stupid, than he did before. This has been quite another annus horribilis for the royal family and we’ve had some serious contenders for the ‘who’s the shittiest Windsor’ competition wafting around, but it looks like Andrew has come steaming into the final stretch with great big bells on. He says he kicks himself every day for his foolishness. I wonder if he might kick a bit harder and a lot more often. Still, he gave me something to write about, so it’s not all bad.
G B Hewitt. 17.11.2019