If Prince Andrew thought being grilled by Emily Maitlis was a good idea, God only knows what he thinks might be a bad one. Sadly I think I know. Still, as we now all realise, there are lots of things that the prince simply does not notice. Hordes of available teenage girls. Are they staff? Is it a railway station? Who are these people? The interview had been widely trailed, but the nation was not prepared for this level of monstrous self-pity and frankly astonishing stupidity.
Lying is the new normal for leaders: Donald Trump, another former friend of Jeffrey Epstein, lies non-stop; the current British prime minister lies and dissembles daily. So I guess we just thought Andrew would make more of an effort to at least come across as genuine and competent. We his disrespectful subjects gathered, strangely united, to see how he would justify the photographs of himself with a man who plea-bargained his way out of statutory rape charges, never mind the allegations made by Virginia Giuffre (and strongly denied by Andrew), that she was forced to have sex with the prince when she was aged 17.
And who was complicit in all this? The monarchy itself. The monarch herself. Like so many of our institutions it is no longer fit for purpose
The Queen’s favourite son was presumably coached into this shambolic mess of extreme nodding as he tried to justify hanging out with a sex offender, and staying in his house for days in order to end his relationship with him. He was just “too honourable”. And loyal. All of it was totally unbelievable. Something went badly wrong with the prep – he seemed unable to believe himself what was coming out of his mouth.
Possibly that is one of the several conditions he has, all of which involved some frantic Googling. He often has no recollection of things. By things I mean women. He wasn’t called “Randy Andy” for nothing. He says he had a mysterious PTSD no-sweating condition – where is celebrity SAS man Ant Middleton when you need him to put a bag over his head and yell at him? Maitlis did much the same with an expert flicker of bewilderment. Twitter users posted reams of pictures of the prince sweating, apparently taken around the same period he allegedly danced with Giuffre.
His lines about honour must have been handy when he was working with the NSPCC – learning to look out for … you know, things like sexual abuse. It certainly came in handy with Epstein: he saw nothing. He heard nothing. A Buckingham Palace spokesman once said Epstein had taught Andy how to relax. I’ll just leave that there.
The prince did or did not have sexual relations with a pizza in Woking on the same night Giuffre says he was with her. By then we wondered if he was on glue. That alibi clearly was his one bright idea, meant to convey his otherworldliness rather than his unearned privilege.
Sarah Ferguson, who once took £15,000 off Epstein, helpfully tweeted about the trustworthiness of her ex. The royal family once blamed a lot of his behaviour on her, the toe-sucking leech. In the years after their divorce she came close to bankruptcy.
The ever-honourable Andrew is still clearly mates with Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell (seen in the background of that notorious photograph with Giuffre). And Andrew continues to show a complete lack of empathy for all the victims of Epstein – a friend he liked so much he had to spend a week breaking up with him. What did we expect from a man with the self-awareness of a whelk?
Why this interview was conducted in a palace and not a police station still makes little sense to me. Still, remember folks, the real threat to the monarchy is Meghan cradling her bump and force-feeding Harry tofu or something. Enough. Surely. Andrew is the way he is because of his huge sense of entitlement, money, women, the lifestyle he was bred into. Playboy? War hero? No, actually besties with a pimp rapist.
And who was complicit in all this? The monarchy itself. Like so many of our institutions it is no longer fit for purpose. What does it produce? This man who doesn’t know whether he has been upstairs or downstairs in a house; who talks of sex for men as being a “positive action” when this is a case about child abuse. All the evidence is there of what Epstein did and what Andrew and his enablers all knew when the two men met in 2010.
None of it is new. The royals inhabit this sordid world. A “straightforward shooting weekend” is actually, it turns out, a party given for the partner of a paedophile?
This is what it means to be born to rule. To over-blink in the headlights of a simple question, but to not bat an eyelid at the systematic abuse of young women. This is what entitlement looks like. Shabby, dodgy and scared as hell. The country stares back at this dissolute man in blank disgust.
• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist