The scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegation made by Virginia Giuffre that when she was just 17 she was forced by Epstein and his cronies to have sex with Andrew has put the spotlight on the British Royal family in ways that they would rather have avoided.
In particular, this article by Clive Irving, based on a book What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know…And What Do You Do? by Norman Baker, a former government minister and long-time Member of Parliament, looks at the lavish lifestyle of ‘The Firm” as they are called and how they hide it, finance it, and avoid taxes, headed by Prince Charles and his own fortune building empire. This may explain why Charles was so quick to put wraps around Andrew and whisk him away from the public eye for fear that the other shenanigans might also come out. What the article reveals is secret indulgence on a massive scale.
I can’t remember a time when the royal family’s damage control was so swift and absolute. Priests are excommunicated with less haste and more mercy than Andrew in the wake of his disastrous BBC Epstein-related interview, and its ever-cascading fallout. But I detect the odor of scapegoating and hypocrisy in the decisive role that Prince Charles has played in this purge against his brother.
Although he pays income tax (albeit “voluntarily”) [Charles] is allowed to make huge deductions for expenses including the costs of a personal staff of 28, including butlers, valets and gardeners—as well as those of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, including her jewels, clothes and stabling for horses.
The family is also very adept at concealing the frequent excesses of its travel habits. Twenty years ago all trips that cost more than £500 ($646) had to be publicly disclosed. By 2010 the threshold was £10,000 ($13,000) and by 2016 £15,000 ($19.4 million). Baker says that allowed 202 helicopter flights to go unlisted in that year, as well as 43 charter flights.
Prince Harry seems to have caught this habit. In 2018 he chartered a private jet for a short round-trip flight to Amsterdam at a cost of £20,000 ($26,000), and in 2019 he spent the same amount on a one-way flight home from Norway so that he could be with Meghan on St. Valentine’s Day.
The royal train, however, still trundles over the British railway network, used for commuting between palaces. The cars, including sleepers, a dining car and several lounges, date from the late 1970s and have the retro-luxe look of the Orient Express. Most trips cost over £15,000 ($19,000) but since the Queen and Prince Philip are no longer jet setters they are more comfortable at this speed than in any other form of locomotion.
Charles has an overweening sense of privilege and entitlement, born of many years of being pampered with a level of personal service and comfort that have securely insulated him from the realities of normal life. He also has annoying habit, as The Economist recently noted, of “sounding off about a wide range of subjects about which he has more opinions than knowledge.”
Nonetheless, compared to Andrew he is a lily-white innocent. Andrew has reached a level of shameless moral turpitude unseen in any other modern prince. For years he and Fergie—an ex who remains not so ex—have behaved like a couple of well-practiced grifters, offering his title in pay-for-play deals to anyone still in awe of the aura of the monarchy. They were able together to buy a $19 million Swiss skiing chalet on the proceeds.
This bunch of grifters and parasites should long ago have been put out on the streets and forced to earn their own living. It amazes me that the British public still puts up with them.