By Jonathan Reed
Video supplied by Sky News©
It is the mantra which has dominated The Queen’s 67-year reign. Her mother before her swore by it, her father reigned by it, her grandparents lived by it; “never complain, never explain.” It might as well be emblazoned across the gates of Buckingham Palace, so fastidious is Her Majesty on reacting publicly to any news, good or bad.
This week, we saw that mantra invariably questioned as the revelations surrounding the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, and his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein gathered pace.
In a move which commentators are both equally concerned and confused by, Buckingham Palace released a statement on the Duke of York’s behalf stating that the Prince “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.”
The statement, which was released as pressure mounted on Prince Andrew after the publication of a disturbing video showed the Prince inside the home of the billionaire businessman Epstein, seemingly asked more questions than it answered. And whilst Andrew is holed up with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and two daughters in a millionaire’s mansion in Spain, the statement has done nothing more than add fuel to an already growing inferno.
But would the growing outrage against the once “spare to the heir”, really have been minimised if Andrew did actually ‘never complain, never explain?’ Perhaps a decade ago, the answer would be yes, after all it actually did. Photos emerged of the Prince with Jeffrey Epstein shortly after he was released from prison in 2010. Then, Andrew simply referred to the images as a “vast misjudgement”, and the world moved on, though times are different now.
As the world has watched, with aghast, the bizarre unravelling of Jeffrey Epstein and his questionable ‘suicide’, the spectre of his friendship has come back to haunt Prince Andrew, and its looking more and more likely that this time around the questions aren’t going to go away. For many the Buckingham Palace statement asks more questions, for others it doesn’t go far enough.
The most potent enquiry that Andrew still faces is why did he continue a friendship with a man who was convicted of procuring an underage girl for prostitution? Why did he not heed the advice of friends who allegedly suggested he end the friendship immediately? And most importantly of all, why on earth was one of the Queen’s sons inside Epstein’s New York home, chillingly dubbed the “House of Horrors”, two years after his initial conviction? On these questions Andrew is maintaining his mother’s aptitude for no public comment, but can he continue to?
If the Duke of York wants all of this to go away, it won’t, and neither should it. The allegations facing Prince Andrew are deeply disconcerting, and although they have been in the public realm for some time, with the death of Epstein, people are beginning to wonder just what the billionaire and his friends have to hide? Andrew has always vehemently denied any wrong-doing, and after allegations made by Virginia Giuffre resurfaced, whereby she stated she was forced to have sex with the Prince, the pressure is now hitting fever pitch.
So, what should happen now? Unfortunately for the Queen, ‘never complain, never explain’ no longer suffices against such appalling accusations and a growing scandal of this scale.
Throughout the years there have been numerous humiliations the Royal Family has endured and survived. An abdication didn’t derail the Monarchy, a worrying number of divorces didn’t, the wearing of Nazi regalia failed to either, but Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein is completely different and the silent treatment will no longer suffice.
With the billionaire now gone, the appetite for justice has increased and the multiple women abused by his hand are even more determined to expose Epstein’s secrets and those associated with him – including Prince Andrew. The Duke of York’s statement through Buckingham Palace may have broken the age-old rule of ‘say nothing and ignore’, but Andrew can no longer afford to release just simple statements.
Of course, Victoria’s allegations haven’t been proven and everyone, including members of the Royal Family are innocent until proven otherwise, but it is becoming increasingly hard to see how Andrew was completely unaware regarding his friend’s criminal behaviours.
What is also deeply disturbing is that his continuing friendship with Epstein, long after he had served a prison sentence for underage prostitution, was still ongoing. Like the rest of the world, Andrew knew full well what Jeffrey Epstein had been up to yet chose to remain friends with a convicted paedophile.
Prince Andrew must explain why? He must also meet with law enforcers and help in their campaign for justice. Anything less than this will only increase the furore which is bubbling beneath his feet.
Some would argue that Andrew has nothing – at least professionally – to lose. His reputation is already shot. His popularity amongst the public consistently at the lower end of the spectrum, thanks to the old tag of “Airmiles Andrew” which has dogged his image for decades, but he effectively survived that ‘scandal’. This time around it looks as if he won’t.
This is a different royal ball game than how often he flew at public expense, now it is a question of whether the public have been funding the lifestyle of a man who allegedly knew and refused to stop the trafficking of underage girls. ‘Never explain, never complain’ doesn’t supress this vital question and it is one which the British public, and those abused deserve to have answered. Unfortunately for Andrew, the time of royal silence is at an end.
It may cost him what little reputation he has left, and it may bring unimaginable shame and heartache onto the shoulders of his daughters – Princess Eugenie is patron of an anti-sex trafficking charity. But surely the abused women have suffered enough. Surely, they deserve the answers which it seems only a handful, including Prince Andrew, can give.
There can be no more hiding, no more pointless statements, no more riding in the Queen’s car smiling on the way to Church at Balmoral. Prince Andrew has to start talking, and the age of ‘never complain, never explain’ must end.