Regular contributor, Sean Walsh provides us with an interesting analysis of the current situation Prince Andrew finds himself in after the Newsnight interview.

As a monarchist, you have to be prepared to put up with the possibility that the royal family might be just as dysfunctional as the typical one. But this lot aren’t making it easy.

The whole point about acquiescing in the (frankly peculiar) hereditary principle is that we offer a secular genuflection to the terminally-dim-but-entitled in exchange for never having to think about them after that. The Queen is not a President. We should not be obliged to worry about her political views. And she shouldn’t be required to worry about ours (or her own, come to that). Our Queen is (rightfully) loved as a consequence of the dutiful assimilation of her private self into her public office.

The monarch is only a proper object of national affection to the extent that she is seen -and appreciated- as an individual called to an office.

This is the deal: we’ll gift to you a form of power that doesn’t amount to anything, and in exchange, you use that power that doesn’t amount to anything to do nothing. Oh, and – for the most part- please keep your head down. And if your children are an embarrassment then maybe it’s best to keep them concealed from those of us who pay your wages.

It’s not a bad system. It’s worked ok, despite the occasional glitch. The risks are reasonably offset by the hideous possibility of a President Blair. But it’s always vulnerable to the possibility that the child who should be concealed emerges, like Fredo Corleone, into a position of unconscionable and frightening influence.

Which brings us to the curious case of Prince Andrew… A Prince who sees the arc of justice as being determined by his own ability (or inability) to “recall” events and who seems to think that the historical record is determined by the opening hours of his preferred pizza emporium. Mr Prince Andrew wants it both ways: to be a part of the gilded and privileged and undeserving elite….while reserving the right to disengage from the responsibilities that go with that.

It was the BBC’s Emily Maitlis that scuppered him, but it might as well have been Oprah.

The Duke of York (is he still that, things seem to be unravelling fast?) has attempted a self-exculpation of the most cowardly kind: yes, Mr Epstein was my friend, but I didn’t really know that much about what was going on. At what velocity can I now distance myself from him?

No, Mr York, if he was your friend while he was alive then don’t banish him from the table now that he has passed. And if you conspired in the stuff, he did when he was with us don’t invoke the dodgy memory defence now that he is not here to correct you. If he was your friend stand by him; if we wasn’t, then explain why not.

“I couldn’t have done this because I was eating a pizza with my daughter.” Might eventually replace, “no comment” as the smug default position of every person who (despite being of exemplary “honourable” character) is unlucky enough to find himself at the thick end of questioning in the local custody suite.

Or let’s just picture the scene:

Detective to Fred: what were you doing that night Fred?

Fred to the detective: I was having a pizza with Rose.

Detective to Fred: I’m glad we cleared that up. Can I offer you a lift home?

Fred to the detective: Thanks, but we thought we might see if any hitchhiker is feeling cold tonight.

I don’t know if any of you ever watched that TV series The Bill? There was a character in it, Don Beech, who was a seriously competent but also brazenly corrupt police officer. In one episode Beech sabotages the trial of a gangster who is greasing his palm, only to take him to task afterwards: “ I got attention over this one”.

This is Prince Andrew’s conceit: that he can hide behind the peculiarities of an institution, the structure of which implies we owe him nothing at all. We all know that the institution of the monarchy is eccentric. But it has a certain charm to it: the head of state is determined not by the grubby vagaries of the political process but is bequeathed to us by the random contingencies of genetics. It might well be that the monarch is interested in politics, but that will be an unfortunate consequence of the fact that God has ordered things so that some people are. Hopefully, the next one will be more interested in PS4. Or maybe talk to plants. Or (and I speak as the father of one) be a child gifted with ginger hair.

It’s a system with imperfections. We can deal with it as long as those imperfections are below the radar, seldom discussed.

The Duke of York has drawn attention to the imperfections. He’s the Don Beech of the House of Windsor.

Beech eventually disappeared to Australia.

Just sayin’.

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