Prince Andrew has become very unpopular.

Prince Andrew gave a TV interview which turned most people against him. Why? The main complaint against him seems to be that he was friendly with Jeffry Epstein. We don’t know how much he knew and how far he collaborated with him. People also accuse him of having had sex with a girl who was seventeen at the time. That’s not a crime in this country. If he had been a seventeen-year-old youth nobody would be complaining. Is this one type of ageism that is acceptable nowadays?

If Prince Andrew has not committed a crime, what’s wrong?

Of course, there are many questions unanswered and some of the answers he gave were unsatisfactory, to say the least. However, for many people, his worst offence was his failure to demonstrate empathy with the victims. It would have been better for him if he had, but is that failing enough to treat him as a villain?

Why am I defending Prince Andrew?

Is that what I am doing? I certainly have no more knowledge about the matters in question than the average person. What I am concerned about is that people are criticising him so much for performing badly on TV. Is that due to his having a bit of an old-fashioned stiff upper lip? Or perhaps because he is not an emotional person? In a way, I respect him for being himself more than I would if he had given a totally phoney performance, with clever answers and crocodile tears just to satisfy the public. So is he a villain? I don’t know. We haven’t got the whole truth.

Is Prince Andrew uniquely inept on TV?

What worries me is that we so often judge on appearances, and judge harshly anyone who doesn’t meet our expectations. Remember the ‘dingo-baby’ case? Lindy Chamberlain went to jail in Australia for murdering her baby, although she claimed a dingo had eaten it. Eventually the authorities exonerated her after numerous appeals and three years in jail. What’s that got to do with the Duke of York? One important factor in the case was that Lindy did not display the emotions the police and the public expect of people in such circumstances. She was too self-controlled. She spoke about her dead baby in a detached way. No tears on camera.

What’s the TV performance by Prince Andrew to do with me?

As a writer of murder mysteries, I try not to make the villain too obvious from the start. There are four types of suspect in fiction as in real life:

  1. Those who look innocent but are guilty
  2. The ones who look guilty but are innocent
  3. Those who look innocent and are innocent
  4. The rare ones who look guilty and are guilty

Which type is Andrew?

If you haven’t read either of my two novels in the Accounting for Murder series now could be a good time. I hope you’ll see what I mean about villains.

Double Entry

Old Money

Accounting for Murder: Double Entry - compare the suspects with Prince Andrew

Accounting for Murder: Double Entry – compare the suspects with Prince Andrew

Accounting for Murder: Old Money - is the villain anything like Prince Andrew?

Accounting for Murder: Old Money – is the villain anything like Prince Andrew?

Does Prince Andrew’s behaviour matter?

The press, the social media and others have spent a lot of time and energy analysing this interview and raking over the background information. How important is it? Remember he is only about tenth in line for the throne and anyway the monarch’s powers are pretty limited nowadays. Here are a few things we might get steamed up about that have had less airtime than the Duke of York lately:

  1. Allegations of war crimes by British soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland
  2. The suppression of a report into Russian interference in UK politics, including the Brexit Referendum
  3. The propagation of fake news by the Conservative Party –
    • its ‘factchecker’ website,
    • the edited interview of Keir Starmer with Piers Morgan,
    • the number of new hospitals being built

Let’s get a sense of proportion as well as of justice!