Emily Maitlis did a good job interviewing Prince Andrew. She was prepared, she called him out in the right moments, and she mostly let Andrew hang himself with a story that made no sense. The only complaint people have about the job Maitlis did was that she didn’t ask Andrew about the money. Jeffrey Epstein “loaned” thousands of dollars to Sarah Ferguson, something which she apologized for but never confirmed that she returned. And beyond that, no one has any f–king clue how Andrew has been supporting himself for years, and by “supporting himself,” of course we mean “living large.” Andrew gets tons of freebies, free private jet travel and free vacations and all of that. But even then, his outsized lifestyle does not match his official income.
Prince Andrew’s long journey from dashing young Falklands War hero to the pasty-faced, 59-year-old Royal pariah who bumbled through Saturday’s extraordinary TV interview hinges on a simple question: what on Earth first attracted him to the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein? This rackety American financier was, after all, the living embodiment of the sort of chancer someone of the Duke’s pedigree ought to avoid.
A self-made man, whose personal fortune had been amassed in a highly-opaque fashion (rumoured, in certain circles, to have involved blackmail and money-laundering), Epstein lived like a real-life Bond villain, using private jets and helicopters to shuttle between a collection of vulgar mansions that were usually filled with very young girls of dubious provenance. His Florida home, where Andrew stayed on several occasions, presumably with police protection officers, was decorated with photographs of naked teenagers.
Yet within an extraordinarily short time of meeting this dubious character, the Prince welcomed Epstein into the Royal Family’s circle, inviting him to a birthday party at Windsor Castle, entertaining him at Balmoral and taking him shooting at Sandringham.Whatever, as the saying goes, was the Queen’s favourite son thinking? As with many old-fashioned tales of power and patronage, the answer almost certainly revolves around the one thing Epstein had which Andrew desperately coveted: money.
His entire official income, upon his retirement from the Navy, consisted of an allowance from the Queen, said these days to be around £250,000 annually, plus a Navy pension thought to provide around £20,000 per year. While the British taxpayer coughed up for ‘air miles’ Andrew to tour the globe, as the nation’s roving ‘trade ambassador’ (the Duke’s travel expenses were £4 million over his decade in the role, while his security costs were another £10 million), it would still take an awful lot more loot to keep him in the style to which he seemed accustomed.
That, of course, was where Epstein came in. The shady financier notoriously lent his private jet to the Duke — whose love of air travel famously once extended to taking a helicopter from Windsor Castle to Kent to play golf, at a cost to the public of £5,000. Meanwhile Epstein’s various homes and private island were placed at Andrew’s disposal, allowing him to live and holiday like an oligarch, for free.
You can read more at the Daily Mail. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think Epstein had a hand in financing Andrew’s lifestyle for a time and Epstein absolutely traded private jet rides and free stays at his mansions for access to Andrew’s family and connections. But… that’s not the whole story. Andrew’s up to his neck in shady associations with even shadier oligarchs. Most telling was the sale of Sunninghill Park, the home given to him by the Queen. Andrew sold it over asking price to a Kazakh oligarch as part of some kind of quid pro quo lobbying effort. I hope the Daily Mail and other publications continue to take a deeper forensic dive into Andrew’s finances. They’ll come up with a lot more than just “Epstein loaned him money.”
Photos courtesy of Getty, WENN/BBC.