After news broke this weekend about Jeffrey Epstein’s death, which coincidentally (or conspiratorially, depending on how you see it) happened following the unsealing of court documents containing allegations that he ran an underage sex ring, the Daily Mail published an article about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s dinner party etiquette – because THAT’s the royal story you care most about right now.
Supposedly Meghan and Harry don’t like to sit apart when they’re invited to dinner parties as Meghan isn’t into how “exclusive” and “traditional” this custom is; Harry’s society circle has been “rolling their eyes” over the Sussexes’ request to sit next to each other instead. Subtext: this American b-tch thinks she can undo decades of upper class etiquette.
Speaking of dinner parties though…
Did you hear about the dinner party that Jeffrey Epstein hosted for Prince Andrew in 2010, after Epstein served over a year in jail in Florida and emerged a convicted sex offender? What’s the appropriate dinner party etiquette at that kind of party? Are there puppets involved? What does the English “society circle” think about it now? Are they rolling their eyes at the Epstein-Andrew connection too? Or, you know, is that just how it works with the English aristocracy?
This would be a good time to relink to a piece in Vanity Fair I reference often. “The Trouble With Andrew” was published in the magazine in 2011, after Prince Andrew was seen with Jeffrey Epstein in Central Park. At the time, people were talking about whether or not Andrew was fit to be Britain’s trade ambassador given his friendship with Epstein and several other public relations blunders that included shady financial deals and other questionable decisions that were a lot more sinister than guest-editing British Vogue and not stepping outside the hospital just hours after giving birth to a baby to be photographed. The piece discussed Andrew’s close relationship with the Queen, how she’s always had a soft spot for her second son, and how she often comes to his rescue. I wrote in today’s open about her Love Shield for Andrew. That love is, literally, a shield – from “The Trouble With Andrew” in 2011:
With the prospect of even further humiliation to her and her son, the Queen decided to intervene by employing the most potent instrument at her command: royal symbolism. She summoned Andrew to Windsor Castle and in a private ceremony invested him with the insignia of a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the highest possible honor for “personal service” to the Queen. From now on, Prince Andrew will be entitled to use the letters G.C.V.O. after his name and wear a red-white-and-blue sash complete with the order’s star-shaped insignia, made from sterling silver, silver gilt, and enamel.
Under the protection of the Queen, Prince Andrew was untouchable.
Basically the UK press had to back off. Over the last few months, when faced with criticism over their coverage of Meghan Markle, the UK tabloid media’s go-to defence has been that they should be free to express their concerns about Meghan because, you know, freedom of the press. There’s an ongoing investigation in the United States right now into a mysterious millionaire’s alleged web of sex and deceit that could implicate politicians, world leaders, and other international diplomats, including a British royal, all named in court documents in a pending federal case. He died under just as mysterious circumstances. So it’s understandable to have questions. It’s defensible to have questions. Even though Buckingham Palace and Prince Andrew have repeatedly denied any involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged grossness, his name keeps coming up as Epstein’s accusers keep naming him.
So where’s the angst over how Prince Andrew’s conduct and misjudgment will affect the royal brand? Where are the think-pieces about Prince Andrew being a blight on the royal family’s reputation? Where’s the commensurate outrage over not being able to go microscopic into Andrew’s relationship with a convicted sex offender who was being held – and died – in federal detention and charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy? People are pissed because they feel entitled to know the names of Harry and Meghan’s dogs and the godparents of their child. Are they the same pissed that they don’t know how Prince Andrew ended up in a photo with his arm around a young woman, then 17, who has since claimed, over Buckingham Palace’s strong denials, that she was ordered to have sex with him?
Can we at least find out who was seated where at this 2010 dinner party that Jeffrey Epstein hosted in honour of Prince Andrew?