Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: So many more questions about Epstein still have to be answered... and not just by the Duke of York


Prince Andrew during his disastrous BBC interview
Prince Andrew during his disastrous BBC interview

By Lindy McDowell

The usual, dubious advice given to any novice worried about an upcoming television appearance is this: Just be yourself. Let them see the real you.

The problem arises if the real you isn't as appealing as you think.

And so to Prince Andrew, who made global headlines this week with his chauffeur-driven car crash of an interview.

Before it aired we were told (and I was prepared to be open-minded about this) that the Duke of York is in reality a very different man from how he has been portrayed in the past (boorish, thick, very grand).

Instead we were promised the "real" thing, a humble, contrite prince.

The hope, a royal source confided, was that people would see Andrew for the "decent individual that he is".

Some hope...

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There's no need here for a detailed rehash of what happened next. Instead of the promised candid Andy what we got was pompous bluster, bizarre pizza-related alibi, no remorse for consorting with the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and no sympathy whatsoever for the children that monster abused.

The real Andrew turns out to be as arrogant, unfeeling and stupid as we'd always assumed.

And about the only fact we gleaned from his interview was how to pronounce the first name of Epstein's girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.

The week progressed with sponsors and charities offloading their toxic patron. There was talk that Andrew might even do a second interview. Like a second referendum, hoping for a better result than the first.

Wisely, the Royal Firm, not usually renowned for swift, decisive action, immediately put the tin lid on that.

Andrew has now "stepped back" from royal duties. How far back and for how long isn't totally clear (will he be stripped of his HRH? Will he stand down as Baron Killyleagh?).

In a carefully worded statement he also finally accepted that, yes, he would "of course" speak to investigators.

This was Andrew's big mistake in the first place. Not that he chose to give an interview. But that he chose to give it to the BBC, not the FBI.

So many questions now have to be answered. And not just by the Duke of York.

What did his protection officers see? And all those other celebs and bigwigs Epstein seduced into his circle?

When that other ogre Jimmy Savile was posthumously unmasked the phrase widely used was that he'd been "hiding in plain sight". Epstein didn't even feel the need to hide his odious behaviour. Yet, somehow, nobody noticed.

Why did Andrew maintain his relationship with him even after he'd served a prison term? In Epstein's description - "convicted billionaire paedophile" - the only word that really mattered to greedy Andy was "billionaire". But now comes payback.

As the father of two young women himself, Andrew's priority (belatedly) should be thinking of Epstein's victims.

Yet, typically, his priority as this week drew to a close was preparing for yet another jolly to Dubai - before that too was scuppered by the Palace.

With the Queen in her 90s it's inevitable that Prince Charles, and perhaps also William, are now assuming more control in the Royal Firm.

But Andrew aside, they face other challenges.

This week People magazine in the US has been briefed (yet again) by "sources" that Harry and Meghan continue to feel ostracised by their royal relatives.

And up ahead is that potentially explosive court case against the Mail on Sunday, which could see members of the Duchess' own family give evidence for the paper.

The Royal Firm is once again in crisis.

But the fall-out for the House of Windsor is secondary to the real scandal in all this.

The wider questions about who really knew what about Epstein. All those many, avaricious big names who aided and abetted his dark world.

Jeffrey Epstein bought an awful lot of blind eyes with that money of his.

Nostalgic for Black (eye) Friday

Oh, for Christmas the way it used to be. Black Friday is back with us again although, unlike in times of yore, it's not just a day any more; it's now a whole week. And since you can shop for the same stuff on the internet, there's no need to rush to the stores for a day of frenzied purchase. The traditional Black Friday involved people queueing in the crisp morning air before fisticuffs over 55in flatscreen TVs. The good old days, eh?

Lily has a bawl as fan of Labour

We get pretty wound up about elections in this part of the world but I don't think we get overly emotional about manifestos. This week pop singer Lily Allen posted a video of herself weeping tears of joy as she described the Labour Party manifesto as the best manifesto she'd ever seen. I think it's fair to say not too many of the rest of us peruse party political manifestos with Lily's fervour and passion. Or indeed admiration.

Coldplay change tune over touring

Coldplay's Chris Martin has revealed that the band will not be going on tour following the release of their new album.

They're taking time out, he says, to work out how touring could not only be sustainable, but actually environmentally beneficial.

This could take a while.

During the band's last tour they travelled to over 100 countries (involving many air miles), used over 30 trucks and played to millions.

Add together the pollution from the flights, the vehicles, the manufacture of the merchandise and the travel, food and beverage needs of the audience and it adds up to an awful lot of carbon emitting.

Will others in the industry follow the Coldplay lead?

During their 2009 tour U2 were accused of producing a carbon footprint similar to a return flight to Mars.

Speaking of which...

Just this week Elon Musk's Starship prototype aimed at providing transport between here, the Moon and Mars suffered a malfunction involving a rupture in one of its cryogenic tanks. Plumes of liquid nitrogen spewed forth.

I'm no expert on climatic damage but it didn't look awfully environmentally beneficial. What damage does this and the many other competing space launches cause?

The billionaires behind them argue that we may need rehousing elsewhere in the galaxy due to climate change on Earth. In a vicious circle, though, the same climate change that may force us to venture to infinity and beyond is being exacerbated by their space race.

Not all rocket men are seated behind pianos.

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