Of course it was inevitable that I would watch the Emily Maitlis interview with Prince Andrew wearing my advice columnist’s hat. How could I not?
To be honest, even though the advance publicity had made my heart sink, I still wanted him to be convincing, to be sympathetic, to offer a mitigating chink through which the compassionate heart could squeeze . . . and (possibly) forgive him.
But he did not. On the contrary, it was as if a mocking sadist had handed the Queen’s beloved (some even say favourite) son a shovel and ordered him to dig away at a huge hole, into which he would quickly topple — still protesting that he knew nothing, recognised nobody, was never there, had no idea about that photograph, could be faulted only for being ‘too honourable’.
It was as if a mocking sadist had handed the Queen’s beloved (some even say favourite) son a shovel and ordered him to dig away at a huge hole, into which he would quickly topple, writes BEL MOONEY. Pictured: The Queen leaving The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Windsor Great Park this morning
Endless bat-squeaks of blustering self-pity within the darkness of an unbelievably befuddled mind.
What on earth possessed him to give the interview?
He said that he’d been in talks with Newsnight for months about a way of highlighting his charitable work — so was his motivation a form of vanity?
Did he think he would come across as a fundamentally decent, misunderstood guy who just briefly got in with the wrong crowd, but that’s all over now, so let’s focus on his good works?
It astonishes me that it hasn’t dawned on this man of nearly 60 that TV is a pitiless medium — showing up every blink, every squirm, every sudden tensing of a foot.
It astonishes me that he has no understanding . . . full stop.
Yet this is a man who is still loved, admired and defended by his ex-wife. This is a loving and beloved father of two daughters — young women who must be full of utter misery today.
I make no apology for feeling full of compassion for Beatrice and Eugenie, as well as respect for Sarah Ferguson’s loyalty to the father of her girls.
As a passionate monarchist, I care deeply about what happens to the whole Royal Family, and it breaks my heart to think of what the Queen has to endure now, writes BEL MOONEY
If we cannot exercise the very empathy that Andrew failed to show for Jeffrey Epstein’s exploited victims during the interview, then surely harm is doubled?
So let others articulate all the angry disbelief I certainly felt when watching that car-crash interview. The point is, my later reflections have been more full of sorrow than rage.
Pity for the flawed man at the mercy of Maitlis’s cool intelligence?
No — because I cannot believe that somebody who has enjoyed such privilege could have no inkling of how his ‘non-sweat’ claim and his pizza party alibi (‘I remember it because it was weird for me to go to Woking’) would sound.
And not noticing the ‘staff’ at Epstein’s house (which quite possibly included very young girls). There can be no excuse for such arrogance and ignorance.
I do, however, feel sad for his family. Andrew’s brothers and sister may well be muttering: ‘He’s a bloody fool’ — but what of his mother?
As a passionate monarchist, I care deeply about what happens to the whole Royal Family, and it breaks my heart to think of what the Queen has to endure now — especially after the recent adverse publicity directed at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Twelve years of writing my Saturday advice column for the Mail has exposed me to the full range of human stupidity, weakness, shame, anger and grief.
I regularly receive problem letters from mothers whose sons (or daughters) — the ones they loved so much as children and for whom they cherished such hopes — have badly let them down.
Of course it was inevitable that I would watch the Emily Maitlis (left) interview with Prince Andrew (right) wearing my advice columnist’s hat. How could I not? writes BEL MOONEY
They ask how they can balance shame with forgiveness. They wonder how long you can go on supporting someone who has brought disgrace on the family — through crime or drugs, for example.
Or they express the intense irritation that calls into question the unconditional love of parenthood. They ask me — sometimes piteously, sometimes resentfully — whether it could have been their fault. What went wrong?
Such painfully mixed-up feelings are common within families. And the Windsors are a family.
I happen to think it essential to remember that pain has nothing to do with privilege and that humiliation is just as horrible when experienced on a gilded chair.
You may not agree. You may wish to see Prince Andrew rolling along in a tumbril, closely followed by all his relatives. But I don’t.
I wish he had spared us that interview. But, most of all, I wish he had had the common sense and grace to spare the people who, I am sure — for all his many faults — he loves.