short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography
February 9th, 2015
Though you wouldn’t have guessed from scanning most British press headlines today, yet another episode in the Prince Andrew saga has unfolded. In a startling claim, the woman at the centre of the story, Virginia Roberts, has revealed that the FBI may possess video tapes of her engaging in sex with powerful associates of Jeffrey Epstein, while she was still a minor under Florida law. A steamy tale of sex and intrigue involving a prince and a beautiful, young sex slave, surprisingly, by mid-afternoon it appeared only to have been covered by The Guardian and The Independent, two of the more serious British newspapers.
As the affair starts to resemble a long-running Latin American soap opera, with the passing of each day, the UK press hardly knows where to turn. Especially now, when even the red-top rags choose either to bury or ignore the latest sensational revelations for so much not knowing.
But let’s backtrack a couple of weeks. When news of Prince Andrew being named in a court document regarding under-age sex slaves broke, Buckingham Palace issued a statement, which read: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.” Up until Britain’s Mail on Sunday broke the protocol, the anonimity of the woman referred to as Jane Doe ≠3 had been protected by the press. Spurred on by the inconsiderate release, Buckingham Palace did not hesitate to add to the exposure unnecessarily in a ruthless attempt to salvage the unsalvable reputation of the errant prince. Despite its arrogant brevity, the palace statement is ambiguous. Though it implies no sexual contact or relationship took place between the two, it does not deny any other sort of contact or relationship took place. And neither could it, as a photo showing the prince in close physical contact with Virginia Roberts exists. The way his arm snakes round her waist suggests their relationship was rather closer than Buckingham Palace would have us believe, as it is not usual for members of the Royal family too be caught in such intimate poses with complete strangers.
Some of us could be forgiven for wondering why so many British and US newspapers have sought to to alter a photograph of Prince Andrew standing with Virginia Roberts in front of Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the disgraced press mogul, Robert Maxwell, who died after falling of his yacht in 1991.
The top photo, published by most papers, looks completely innocent, with the Prince posing next to seventeen-year-old Virginia Roberts. Both are smiling happily. Millions of families have similar photos in their albums. Indeed, it is a shot most adoring uncles would be proud of. But the second photo, the original version, paints a slightly different picture. Though not offensive in any way, we can still wonder why, like many other British and US newspapers, The Guardian decided to crop the original see here.
In the original, Prince Andrew is not just standing next to Virginia Roberts but has his left arm round her waist; his hand resting on her exposed midriff. She has her right hand resting on the small of his back. Closer examination suggests the prince may be pulling her towards him, as she seems to be inclining that way. She appears to find the the pose a tad uncomfortable, as her left hand is held away from her hip unnaturally, almost like a gunslinger ready for the draw. Many women will recognise this male trick. It often occurs just as the camera shutter is being pressed, and results in them leaning in, as they are taken slightly off-balance. She could even have been trying to remove the offending hand. The Guardian crop can’t be due to proportion, as both photos take up more or less the same column inches, and it is doubtful it was done for aesthetic reasons.
Following an interval of ignoring the same British taxpayers, who have funded a large part of his lavish lifestyle, the second son to HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Andrew, chose not to answer questions posed by the legal team representing Virginia Roberts, who alleges he had sex with her on three separate occasions. One of those occasions is alleged to have occurred when she was a still minor under Florida law, Florida being her home state at the time.
As the prince didn’t accept a letter from Virginia Roberts’ lawyers delivered by Fed Ex, we can only assume he already knew its contents. Either that, or it he might have thought it was a bill, and kept shoving it back through the palace letter box. The Duke of York is renowned amongst his billionaire pals for his skills at ligging. Never knowingly stumping up for so much as a packet of crisps down at the pub, if he ever did have a massage with a happy end, we can safely assume he didn’t dip his hand into his own trouser pocket. Or should that have been a message? See what I did there?
However, refusal to accept the missive from Virginia Roberts’ lawyers proved to be another grave mistake. The letter was promptly released to a press always ravenous for crumbs of dubious royal activity. Which brings up the question as to why today’s red-top rags appear to have ignored such a juicy morsel at this pivotal moment in the saga? Many will see the failure to answer pertinent questions in a clear and concise manner as an abuse of royal privilege; bringing the whole royal family into disrepute. But you won’t read this in the lickspittle British press, which reveals the clear yellow streak down its collective back when bowing before the increasingly self-serving Buckingham Palace.
Yet royal protocol didn’t stop Randy Andy from finally deigning to respond to questions regarding his unconventional sex life to an exclusive gathering of the world’s internatioal elites at the highly fashionable Swiss ski resort of Davos. These are the people, who avoid paying the very taxes that fund royal gallivanting, as another huge exposé in today’s international press reveals.
Though you wouldn’t have guessed it from most news reports, instead of an apology, the statement Prince Andrew directed at a meeting of the world’s high and mighty in Davos took the form of an appeal for support from his wealthy international chums, while giving the middle finger to the plebs. Aided by a fawning British press Prince Andrew is beginning to sound as though he regards himself as a helpless victim of Virginia Roberts. Forget the fact she was an impressionable teenager at the time they met and he was a man fast approaching middle age.
The British prince is no stranger to controversy, his well-publicised friendships with an assortment of unsavoury Central Asian tyrants have been the source of countless unflattering newspaper reports for some years. As for his pal Jeffrey Epstein, as long ago as March 2003 the US magazine Vanity Fair published a revealing article by Vicky Ward on the shenanigans of Randy Andy’s paedophile pal. Despite the fact it contains no mention of Epstein’s sexual abuse of under-age schoolgirls for cash, nevertheless, it should have sounded the alarm bells at Buckingham Palace and among Britain’s intelligence agencies. That it centred on Epstein’s lesser-known business dealings, should come as no surprise, given that the financial genie had yet to be convicted for sex offences related to minors. His taste for very young girls was hardly something to spill to a journalist. As it turned out, apart from his great wealth, Epstein had almost nothing to brag about openly.
In her excellent article The Talented Mr Epstein Vicky Ward concentrates on Epstein’s secrecy and elusiveness, raising a series of very important questions about his spectacular rise in the world of finance. Her diligent research discovered many of his business dealings were shrouded in opacity. Those with whom Epstein operated, often proved unwilling, or unable, to provide details. Much of what she managed to garner came from widely-scattered paper trails indicating complicated deals, littered with serious allegations of suspicious and possible fraudulent activity to conceal the true state of affairs from both clients and the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged with overseeing financial trading.
It is now coming to light that the case against him for committing sexual offences against minors also featured dubious practices designed to avoid prosecution for much more serious federal offences involving the committing of crimes across state lines that could have resulted in prison for life. In fact, so tangled has the web become even his own lawyer has been implicated in what is increasingly being viewed in the media as a yet another possible cover-up involving the high and mighty. In a bizarre twist to the afffair, Professor Alan Dershowitz, who brokered Epstein’s controversial plea bargain, finds himself embroiled in the affair. Accused by victims of being involved with Epstein’s sex crimes, something he has hotly denied, Dershowitz has threatened the lawyers of Epstein’s victims with moves to have them disbarred from practising law and actions for defamation of character. The threat has rebounded ending up with Dershowitz himself being sued for defamation. It was Dershowitz’s fancy footwork that led to Epstein being let off the hook for the sexual abuse of forty minors, ending up with a sentence of a mere eighteen months prison after finally being convicted for taking advantage of one girl.
So with so much going against it, what on earth possessed the fifth in line to the British throne to hang about with yet another low-life? After all, it isn’t the first time Prince Andrew’s choice of friends has been questioned. Even worse, how much did the Queen, Buckingham Palace advisers, the secret services and Prince Andrew’s police minders know? And why did they fail to do anything about it? As it has rather too often been remarked in the press of late, Prince Andrew is a very ‘loyal’ friend. Am I alone in finding the term ‘loyal’ in this context more than a little odd? Maybe I’ve become too cynical with the ongoing investigations into paedophilia into leading British figures, including serving members of parliament, the intelligence services, high-ranking police and military officers and judges among others, with some accusations getting too close to the Royals for comfort.
I have the distinct feeling the press might have described it in rather less lofty terms, had such ‘loyalty’ been shown to a convicted paedophile by someone other than Prince Andrew. Can loyalty really be held to be a virtue against such a criminally repulsive backdrop?
Whatever, the English prince waited until two years after his pal had been released from jail, having served just thirteen months, to hook up with him again. The ‘loyal’ pals were captured on camera taking a pleasant stroll in New York’s Central Park. An ex-con, Epstein was a registered sex-offender by then. By what must count as an amazing stroke of luck, a press photographer hit paydirt when he just happened to be concealed in the popular public open space, as they sauntered by in deep conversation. The resulting photo appeared in newspapers all over the world. Now, who would’ve expected a paparazzi photographer to be lying in wait for a meeting between a prince from the most famous royal family in the world and a paedophile? One ‘loyal’ friend would never tip the press off about another ‘loyal’ friend in an attempt to improve a tarnished image that had gone completely pear-shaped, would they? Perhaps it should be pointed out that Jeffrey Epstein has faced allegations of issuing veiled threats against victims and their families in order to pervert the cause of justice.
On that occasion, in light of the all the negative news involving the relationship between Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein to hit the headlines, if any of us thought a full explanation was in order, we were to be disappointed. In a state of full denial, Buckingham Palace raised the drawbridge and lowered the portcullis. Journalists turning up at the palace gates expecting a few answers would’ve more likely been greeted by a cauldron of boiling oil poured from the battlements. True to form, a grovelling British press have refused to pick up the palace gauntlet. Though rightly outraged at the massacre of journalists in Paris as a terrible attack on free speech, once again they cower before the Royals. It seems the fault doesn’t lie with Prince Andrew knocking about with sleazebags most mothers would be aghast at, but with those of us having the audacity to question his reasoning. From the statements issued so far, we can safely assume Buckingham Palace approves of socialising with child molestors.
We might have thought the establishment ought to have learned something from the recent Jimmy Savile scandal, especially since Prince Charles is known to have hobnobbed with Savile, one of the most prolific serial paedophiles and necrophiliacs in the UK of all time. Talk about unsavoury. To have one royal keeping company with sex offenders is bad enough, but two? As Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest might’ve said: ‘To have one son lose his way, Mrs Windsor, may be regarded as a misfortune. To have two looks like carelessness.”
Seen in conjunction with an article published on 21st April 2011 on Channel Four’s internet site: Duke of York: friends in low places it should have had David Cameron summoning the Prince Andrew to Downing Street for a well-deserved dressing-down. Nearly four years later and the time-bomb is still ticking. The latest scandals have only seen the Royals go into bunker mode. The Queen summoned the prince back from what the press describe as a ‘luxury skiing holiday’ in the expensive Swiss resort of Verbier, listed among the top ten most fashionable in Europe, for a friendly fireside chat about how to quash the rumours and gag the press. That’s true loyalty for you, as the mafia might say. While Her Majesty shows familial loyalty to her favourite son, and he shows loyalty to a paedophile, her subjects are expected to show unquestioning loyalty to her majesty and heirs by not questioning them.
For those becoming unsure of what role Prince Andrew serves, I can only inform you of what he was supposed to do before he got the push for, well you’ve guessed it, questionable activities with dubious friends. A former ambassador for brand Britain, his former role needed a special title as it was specially created for him. As the Special Representative for International Trade and Investment (UKYI) the prince primarily dealt with the heads of foreign states. Handy for him, the ones he did most dealings with just happened to be his mates and billionaire rulers of Central Asian dictatorships known for their vicious suppresion of human rights through torture and killing. But what is paticularly disturbing about these dealings is that many of them involved the sale of arms to governments regarded as undemocratic and corrupt by most standards. Even worse, in his role of promoting the arms industry, Prince Andrew would have to have been privy to vital defence information that could’ve been valuable to foreign governments, as well as their high-ranking military officers and secret services. Information that could easily be used to compromise British national security. The fact his interests could have included interests of a more personal nature, can not be ignored, bearing in mind blackmail is one of the most valuable assets in a spy’s armoury. That it was in the interests of the secret services to make sure Prince Andrew never allowed himself to get too close to any individuals who might take advantage of that position must be a cause for worry. The fact it is now being suggested the FBI might be in possession of compromising videos that could possibly reveal the prince engaging in sex acts with Virginia Roberts, begs the question: who else might?
If Britain’s intelligence services didn’t possess any indications that he might be getting a little too close to Jeffrey Epstein before, the Vanity Fair article should have alerted them more than a decade ago. Whatever, they sure know now. The article should have alerted Buckingham Palace, and attempts should have been made to advise the prince that he either forsook his friendships, or gave up all the rights and privileges of being fifth in line to the throne confer, and withdrew from public life.
It is time to come clean. If the residents of Buckingham Palace can no longer distinguish between family interests and the security of the realm, it’s time to give them due notice to vacate. It also brings into question whose interests exactly do British secret services serve? Truth is, I have no longer have any idea. But I do know who is paying them.
Vicky Ward has recently written an article for The Daily Beast on her background reasearch for information into Jeffrey Epstein, which includes information Vanity Fair redacted from the original piece.
Copyright © 2015 Bryan Hemming
Hold your verve
Mark Doran's Music Blog
More Coyotes than Wolves
My journey into sketching and drawing in and around Jimena de la Frontera, Andalucia
Gene Logsdon Memorial Blogsite
Art, music, books, history & current events
A life in a photobooth.
Journeys Through Place and Time