Prince Andrew, Duke of York, had a long friendship with the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. Over the course of a decade, he stayed at their homes in New York and Palm Beach, traveled on Epstein’s private jet, and partied with the pair. According to Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the prince was also involved in Epstein’s crimes. Giuffre has alleged that Epstein and Maxwell forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew multiple times, beginning when she was 17.
Buckingham Palace has issued statements denying the allegations. But the prince had not spoken for himself until Saturday, when the BBC’s Emily Maitlis interviewed him in the State Room of the palace. In the interview, the prince appeared loosely tethered to any notion of the potential consequences of his friendship with Epstein. He repeatedly caveated his denials with questions of memory and challenges to odd details.
For example, Giuffre said that she met him in April 2001, and that he bought her drinks at a nightclub in London called Tramp, then took her to Maxwell’s house, where the first alleged assault occurred. Prince Andrew told the BBC, “I don’t know where the bar is in Tramps,” and said that a photo of him with Giuffre that evening could have been doctored because he wasn’t wearing a suit and has never been upstairs at Epstein’s house.
Then, possibly among the oddest details to focus on challenging, he contested Giuffre’s claim that, while they were allegedly dancing at a London nightclub, he was sweaty.
Emily Maitlis: She was very specific about that night. She described dancing with you.
Prince Andrew: No.
Maitlis: And you profusely sweating, and that she went on to have a bath possibly.
Andrew: There’s a slight problem with the sweating, because I have a peculiar medical condition, which is that I don’t sweat, or I didn’t sweat at the time, and that was—was it—yes, I didn’t sweat at the time—
In case the dubiousness of this claim is not already evident from its context, nested in a sea of dubious claims: This is a dubious claim.
There are people who cannot sweat, or who sweat very little. The Times notes that Andrew’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has been known to appear not sweaty in hot circumstances. Such a propensity to appear cool and collected while everyone else is flushed and damp has been attributed to the enviably high-status throughout history, but the medical condition of not producing sweat, anhidrosis, is extremely undesirable. The function is vitally important as a way to cool the body and prevent heat stroke. Covering the skin in liquid makes it able to transmit heat into the adjacent air much more rapidly than when it’s dry, as is noticeable to anyone who’s gotten out of a pool and found no towel.
Nerve damage or burns can cause a person to lose the ability to sweat in part of her body. The effect is similar to the temporary action of antiperspirants. But to have no ability to sweat from any part of one’s body is a sign of significant dysfunction of the nervous system—a rare genetic condition.
Though anhidrosis can be genetic, the queen is not known to have any such condition. Either way, anhidrosis is not consistent with the account Prince Andrew gave during the interview: “Because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at, and I simply—it was almost impossible for me to sweat. And it’s only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I am starting to be able to do that again. So I’m afraid to say that there’s a medical condition that says that I didn’t do it.”
However, photos have surfaced that show Andrew sweating while dancing and partying.
He also showed little remorse. Maitlis asked Andrew straight out whether he regretted the friendship. “Still not,” he said. “The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”
The prince said he and Epstein were not “close friends.” And yet Andrew had been on his private plane? “Yes.” Had stayed on his private island? “Yes.” Had stayed at his home in Palm Beach? “Yes.” After Epstein was released from prison, where he was serving a sentence for procuring a minor for prostitution, Andrew stayed at Epstein’s house in New York, and was photographed walking through Central Park with him. “I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.” Maitlis was politely incredulous: “You went to break up the relationship and yet you stayed at that New York mansion several days?”
When historians try to understand the interplay of celebrity and sexual predation in the early 21st century, it will be as revealing a document as the recent books on Harvey Weinstein. Every abuser requires enablers. Every abuser requires silenced victims. Every abuser requires blind eyes.
Another set of blind eyes: Donald Trump.
Epstein spent time at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where the two wealthy men lived nearby each other.
A prominent Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, says his ex-girlfriend and alleged “madam,” Ghislaine Maxwell, recruited her into Epstein’s sex trafficking operation when she worked as a locker room attendant at Mar-a-Lago in 1999, when she was 15.
Trump and Epstein were filmed by NBC News in a now widely-distributed clip from a 1992 party at Mar-a-Lago, featuring the two and a number of women, some of whom were NFL cheerleaders.
Here is the whole sorry dynamic: Take an aristocrat and offer him access to an exciting whirl of glittering people. Then offer him the use of a house, a plane, an island, an implicit transaction of money for royal stardust. He is a trophy, rarer even than a stuffed lion, to show off to friends.
In the interview, Andrew missed opportunities to express any sympathy for Epstein’s victims.
At the very least, Andrew tolerated the convicted sex offender and stayed at his home, flew on his jet, and partied at his island retreat.
At the worst, Andrew is a privileged piece of human scum that raped underage girls, and deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his useless life.
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