Note: please do not threadjack. This story is about the conversation around Prince Andrew’s communications failure.
It’s difficult to know where to start with Prince Andrew’s BBC interview. He came across as a pompous ass, a dull, stupid man and a coward lacking in empathy for the children abused by Jeffrey Epstein (and likely Andrew as well). You can read my coverage here, and you can see the whole video below:
Once the clips came out, I was already thinking “this is a communications disaster.” Once you watch the whole thing, that becomes even clearer. It’s not that “dumb Andrew got slaughtered by a brilliant journalist.” It’s that the interview makes it clear (repeatedly) that there never would have been a good defense. Even if he had told the truth or cried and begged for forgiveness or shown sympathy for the girls and women, it still would have been a horrific interview underlining the point that HE HAS NO DEFENSE. So instead of focusing on the reality that this dull, stupid pervert has always been a waste of time, money and space, people are merely focusing on the PR failure. Personally, I don’t think that’s wrong – the royal family are, at this point, mainly about PR. There are expectations that they’ll be good at the communications business. They are not. This interview underlines that fact. So how bad was all of this behind-the-scenes? Really bad.
The guru hired by Prince Andrew to spearhead a PR ‘fightback’ following the Jeffrey Epstein scandal ‘quit’ just weeks into job ahead of the Duke’s bombshell BBC interview, it was revealed last night. Jason Stein started as Communications Secretary to the Duke in September. But the 28-year-old sensationally left his post two weeks before the Prince’s interview with Emily Maitlis.
His abrupt departure no doubt came as a further blow to the beleaguered Prince. This comes as aides reportedly ‘argued’ as they feared the interview would leave the prince ‘terribly exposed’. One aide meanwhile thought he risked coming across as ‘an entitled idiot’.
Meanwhile, when Newsnight producers first made overtures to the Palace about a possible interview almost a year ago, Andrew’s knee-jerk response was that he didn’t want ‘to be shouted at for half an hour’. So it surprised many when, on Thursday, Andrew finally went toe-to-toe with Emily Maitlis in the middle of Buckingham Palace’s South Drawing Room for an interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the claims – which he has long denied – that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl. It was his first public grilling on the subject, the interview of his life in fact, but he was on home turf at least, not in some harshly lit BBC studio. This was the room that Queen Victoria commandeered the day after her coronation in 1838 for the Palace’s first ball. It was perhaps not the best setting for someone seeking to convey humility rather than entitlement, but in the end it was the cross-examination itself that would focus minds.
The Mail on Sunday has been told a similar voluntary sit-down with the FBI is highly unlikely, so after last night’s broadcast – at least as far as Andrew is concerned – the matter is closed. ‘He’s not going to be travelling to America any time soon I can tell you that,’ said one highly placed source. ‘The FBI would question him, it is that simple. They [the Palace] just aren’t going to put him in that position. You can’t have a Royal landing in the US and then being asked to take part in questioning. I think it will be quite a while before he goes there.’
While Andrew initially voiced concerns – at one point he said emphatically: ‘No, we shouldn’t do Newsnight’ – his influential private secretary Amanda Thirsk was enthusiastic and, over time, talked him round. In the end, Andrew followed his private secretary’s advice. ‘She’s like his gatekeeper and everyone knows that in the Palace,’ said another source. Amanda is a force of nature, she’s hugely influential – if Amanda wants something done it gets done. She thinks it is quite simple: that he has apologised for visiting Epstein after his release from prison and has denied all the allegations. She feels there’s nothing to see here. She just thinks the Duke has done nothing wrong… all he did was go and see his friend. He shouldn’t have done it in 2010, he’s apologised.’
RIP Amanda, she’ll be blamed for this and she’ll be out of that job soon. She’ll probably resign and willingly take the fall. That’s how it would work anywhere else, but you never know with these a–holes. Can you even imagine working for Andrew and watching this interview and thinking “there, that’s done, we answered every question and now no one will talk about this ever again.” The problem isn’t with the PR, it’s with HIM. And the whole family, quite honestly.
This is a great thread:
Kicking myself for a bad decision. I declined invite from @BBCr4today to discuss Prince Andrew’s #Epstein interview before seeing the interview. But there’s so much to say about the culture of impunity Andrew embodies in this clip alone. A few thoughts…https://t.co/OQFHuqDQC1
— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) November 16, 2019
Screencaps courtesy of the BBC interview.