Following the release of video footage and photos by the Mail on Sunday depicting the Duke of York saying goodbye to a young woman from the door of Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan home, the Palace finally issued a statement responding to increased demands for an explanation of the Duke’s behavior.
The statement reads:
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”
That’s great, but the released images are from 2010, at which point Epstein was already a convicted sex offender – a fact then widely known and reported. There’s no way Andrew was unaware of this , and it stretches the limits of credulity to suggest he’s only recently become aware of the more notorious accusations against his one-time friend.
This tweet from British broadcaster Jeremy Vine pretty much sums it up:
The new images of Andrew are damning, if unsurprising. While their friendship has long been established, to see him literally inside Epstein’s home (interacting with a young woman, no less) only underlines that this was a close relationship.
A close relationship, I might add, that not only saw Andrew lend Epstein support through later accusations, but also bring him into the Queen’s residences of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, among others.
Putting aside allegations that Andrew knowingly participated in a sexual relationship with at least one underage girl, he is still guilty of such poor judgment that I think calls for him to step down from public duties – and certainly to desist from representing his mother in any official capacity – are fair and worth considering. This simply isn’t a situation in which the Palace can use standard operating procedure for a negative story and wait for it to blow over.
At some point this will begin to blow back on the Queen herself – and arguably it already has since the monarch received heavier-than-usual criticism last week when she publicly attended church with her son. As such, Andrew needs to treated like the liability that he is, even if the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh privately believe their son is being unfairly maligned.
As for the question of “fair,” it was reported at the end of last week that Scotland Yard reviewed “available” evidence when accusations against Andrew were made public in 2015 and decided there wasn’t enough to warrant a full investigation. In response to media questions on the issue, Buckingham Palace responded:
“It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
It’s a strong statement with little wiggle room, which raises the question of why the Palace feels so comfortable offering a categorical denial for actions that could only possibly be known by the DoY himself. Are we basing our trust on Andrew’s word? Because really, what’s that worth?