Political Promise

Prince Andrew: Embarrassment or Latest Media Victim?

In Allie Wickham on March 7, 2011 at 8:00 am

Prince Andrew has been linked to a few questionable activities this week. Is he bringing a bad reputation to the UK? Allie Wickham writes.

The newspapers have not made pleasant reading for the Duke of York in recent weeks, with the government’s Special Representative for International Trade now under mounting pressure over his links to an American sex offender. Yet while Prince Andrew’s judgment can certainly be called into question concerning his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there exists a concerted effort to undermine a man whose work has undoubtedly secured billions of pounds of business for British companies.

In November last year, the Wikileaks publication of US diplomatic cables reported Prince Andrew castigating the British media for investigating alleged corruption in the Middle East. It seems that our newspaper editors did not take kindly to being the subject of his expletive-laden diatribe. The Guardian, which was then singled out by the Duke for particular admonishment, took its revenge this week with a series of stories aimed at weakening his position. Firstly, after recent events in the Middle East, the Duke was criticised for his relations with the former Tunisian President’s son-in-law, Sakher el-Materi. Then it was the turn of Labour MP Chris Bryant to allege that Prince Andrew was a close friend of both Saif Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi, and Tarek Kaituni, a convicted gun smuggler from the country. Finally several newspapers claimed that the Duke had enjoyed a 16-year friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, an American billionaire who has been jailed for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. The New York Post almost libellously referred to him as ‘Randy Andy’.

In truth, none of these stories add up to much under scrutiny. El-Materi is clearly a less than savoury figure mired in corruption and now under investigation for money laundering, yet a few months ago he was a senior politician and major businessman in an allied country which had key trade links to Britain. When he was invited to Buckingham Palace by the Duke the true extent of the allegations against him was unknown; a trade envoy was simply doing his job by attempting to boost British business. Saif Gaddafi is clearly implicated in some of the atrocities being committed by his father’s supporters in Libya, yet just a few weeks ago he was a largely non-political socialite with links to just about every significant British politician and businessman. In any case, Buckingham Palace has insisted that the Duke met Saif just twice, and that he did not have any friendship with Kaituni. Indeed, Mr. Bryant has been slapped down by the Labour Party and warned by the Speaker, John Bercow, over the nature of his questioning. Lastly, while the Duke’s friendship with Epstein was undeniably ill-judged, Prince Andrew has accepted this and ended his relations with the disgraced billionaire. Tabloid insinuations of wrongdoing are crude and unfounded.

In effect, these stories are non-stories. Certainly three separate allegations against one man in a week smacks of a concerted smear campaign. At worst Prince Andrew is guilty of becoming acquainted with characters who have since become shady. At best he is simply a trade envoy doing what is required of him; those journalists taking the moral high ground are living in another world.

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  1. In my view Prince Andrew has done nothing wrong. This is more about how society views convicted sex offenders even after the offender has served his/her time. “WRITER APPLICATION”

  2. I agree with Nina. There is no case against Prince Andrew. He did not commit any crime. What embarrassment?

    There is a very deliberate attempt by those anti-monarchy types in the trendy journalism world to portray Prince Andrew as some kind of villain. What is the charge against him? Nothing.

    The word ‘link’ is being bounced around as both a wrong-doing and a proof of that wrong-doing regarding Prince Andrew. What nonsense. What are these links exactly? Because he might have shaken hands with some leader with questionable record, who from Westminster hasn’t? Tony Blair shook hands with that butcher Qaddafi. Why should Prince Andrew be responsible or held in disrepute when one of his friends turned out to be a peado? Prince Andrew doesn’t manage his life and yet there are those who spin the story, the link, as if Prince Andrew himself is the sex offender. There are some real crooked journalists out there.

    What annoys me still is how some members of the public turn this into an attempt to drum up how important it is to have accountable and transparent figures, republicanism out the back-door. Wake up. What did those supposedly accountable and transparent figures of Westminster do when the nation was against war in Iraq? They voted for it. How many of those national representatives turned national thieves are sent to jail over fiddling the expense account provided to them by us the citizens? 1? 2? Out of swathes. What about the previous government running this nation’s economy into the cesspool? Who is being held accountable? The gaffes of Prince Andrew pale in comparison to the real political and social crimes of many of our supposedly transparent and accountable figures i.e. MPs.

    As far as I can see there is no case against Prince Andrew other than the cheap accusations of him not demonstrating perfect social etiquette and cultural awareness and sensitivity; as if British politicians, trendy media types and large swathes of the general public can uphold such standards themselves both at home and abroad. Masses of binge drinkers here behave no differently when they binge drink abroad like in those Mediterranean islands and we allow ourselves to be beguiled by certain trashy journalists and upstart MPs that it is Prince Andrew that brings this nation’s image and reputation into disrepute? Extraordinary.

  3. […] Prince Andrew: Embarrassment or Latest Media Victim? (politicalpromise.co.uk) […]

  4. It is at least displeasing the impudence of criticizing acts which have no real support to be criticized and which, more than this, are considered to belong to a royal representative without being so. A monarch is to be obeyed not insinuated to resign from what he considers the best for his own kingdom. More than this, all the activity of HRH Prince Andrew in the service of the UK, even if forced to face day by day an excessively open private life in comparison with any other normal human being, has been outstanding, full of fast fruitful results. And, when performing this kind of activity, the jumping board of those considered to be rather too costly supporting instruments should be at hand at the right moment, all the time. I believe the ones who dared to criticize have never tried to imagine how they themselves would have done all this activity which HRH Prince Andrew did or they are blinded by the old biblical envy.

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