He has never been the brightest card in the British royal pack. Prince Andrew’s dodgy dealings with a convicted paedophile, underage girls and dictators have pushed pictures of a beaming Will and Kate off the front pages and plunged the royal family into crisis.
The 58-year-old American billionaire financier used to have many friends in high places, including former US president Bill Clinton, property tycoon Donald Trump and actor Kevin Spacey, but they all turned their backs on him following claims he’d sexually abused more than 40 underage girls.
But Andrew continued the friendship – and uncomfortable questions are being raised about how much the fourth in line to the British throne knew of his friend’s activities.
While there’s no evidence he was involved in any of the abuse insiders say he would have had to be blind not to have noticed what was going on right under his nose.
Andrew clearly demonstrated a major lapse of judgment by befriending the American but there’s even more outrage that he maintained the relationship after Epstein had been convicted.
In December he was a guest of honour at a party celebrating the billionaire’s release from jail, mingling with the likes of comedian Woody Allen and news presenter Katie Couric, who light-heartedly pestered him for invitations to Prince William’s wedding.
The prince became a hero to the British people when he fought in the Falklands War in the ’80s as a helicopter pilot and went on to serve in the Royal Navy for 18 years.
But he has done little to distinguish himself in his current role.
He raised eyebrows because of his friendships with unsavoury businessmen and political personalities, including controversial Kazakhstan billionaire Timur Kulibayev and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s favourite son, Saif, whom he entertained at Buckingham Palace.
But it’s hard to imagine how he will bounce back from the latest scandal.
Especially now the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is preparing to launch a fresh investigation into Epstein’s activities to try to pin him down on more charges of child abuse.
Legal experts believe if the prince is subpoenaed to testify he will probably claim diplomatic immunity. But it won’t stop the dirt from coming out.
Read the full article in YOU, 17 March 2011.