As we heard this week, Prince Andrew stayed at Balmoral for about a week before he jetted off – in a private plane, no less – to Spain with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. Fergie had been in Balmoral for a few days too before Prince Philip chased her off, and I think Andrew must have picked up Fergie from an undisclosed location before they headed off to Sotogrande. There was some question about whether Andrew left Balmoral early when all of the sh-t hit the fan about Jeffrey Epstein – some papers say yes, he did leave early, but the Sun now says that this trip to Spain was always on his schedule and it was always going to be a vacation with Fergie, and not a “hiding out” situation. Of course, the Sun just uses the Fergie-Andrew relationship as a jumping off point to talk about Epstein, which… at least one tabloid is doing that. Some highlights:
Business as usual for Andrew: For while his links to paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein come under renewed scrutiny, it’s business as usual for ‘Air Miles Andy’ as he enjoys a free holiday at a £38million luxury villa. The villa is one of the best in Sotogrande, a 4,500-acre slice of southern Spain which has become one of Europe’s largest gated sports resorts. It has lush polo fields, a modern marina and no fewer than five golf courses on which the prince can work on his swing. Crucially, the villa is virtually invincible to trespassers, being surrounded by an electric fence and accessible only down a drive that stretches for half a mile.
The villa is comped: It is owned by a Spanish businessman who welcomes the subtle kudos of hosting a British prince and who is content to waive any rental. His only insistence has ever been that Andrew donated a signed photograph of himself and his family, which now stands on the grand piano in the villa’s music room. Naturally this is an arrangement which suits the Yorks, who have honed the business of free holidays down to a fine art.
Fergie at his side: Sarah Ferguson is herself facing scrutiny over £300,000 payments for “consultancy work” from Hong Kong businessman Johnny Hon – are staying together in the villa. To those who know him, the holiday is no surprise. According to several of his former girlfriends who soon grew bored of his routine of watching – and rewatching – endless DVDs on how to improve his golf game, Prince Andrew is a creature of habit. Indeed Fergie and Andrew are said to view the villa as a second home. For the last 20 years Andrew has rarely missed his break on the Spanish estate, often taking his two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.
He was always planning on this trip: It has been said that Andrew was “haunted” by all the negative coverage building up over Epstein and had retreated early to Spain, breaking off his stay at Balmoral. But this vacation at ‘Soto’ (as he calls it) has long been in his diary. “Andrew and Sarah were due to go to Spain long before the Epstein business blew up,” says a senior royal source, “so to say that Sarah was publicly by his side beside to show her support is not quite right.”
Andrew & Sarah aren’t “reuniting” really: A source says, “Andrew and Sarah get on wonderfully together, but as the staff at Royal Lodge know very well, there’s no romance between them. Those days are long gone. To put it bluntly, there is no physical activity.”
Sarah was entangled with Epstein too: One of the reasons that the Yorks are putting on a united front amidst this storm, is that Sarah too was involved with Epstein. When her finances ran aground with debts in excess of £1.5 million, it was Epstein who helped bail her out, along with a sizeable donation from Andrew himself. So it was no surprise that when the first stories started appearing about Andrew’s questionable links with the seedy businessman – and that he had been a guest at Sandringham and Balmoral (and had met the Queen) Sarah’s was the first voice heard defending him.
The Sun goes on from there, but it’s just history at this point and the message is the same: Andrew and Fergie are cheap, vulgar and they are both deeply entangled in the Epstein crimes. Fergie has never even said whether she paid back the money Epstein loaned her. Anyway… Fergie and Andrew took a private plane to a comped Spanish luxury villa and they’re trying to wait out the Epstein storm. But.. but… Meghan took a private plane TOO!
Photos courtesy of Getty.