Pictured: Prince Andrew with daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie in June 2016
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Prince Andrew, a new Jeffrey Epstein accuser — known as Jane Doe 15 — has emerged, alleging that after the financier had taken her virginity, aged 15, he tried to entice her to his private island on the pretext that the Duke of York was going to be there.
Jane Doe is now 31. Which means that, at the time the alleged abuse by Epstein took place, she would have been the same age as Andrew’s eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice.
How that must make poor Beatrice and her sister Eugenie feel, I can only imagine.
It is never easy being born into fame. But Andrew’s daughters are now facing something far more traumatic: the notion that their own father may have turned a blind eye to sexual abuse — when what he should have been doing is trying to put a stop to it.
I suppose it is possible that in the earlier stages of his friendship with Epstein, Prince Andrew might have missed the warning signs that with hindsight seem so clear.
But, by 2010, after Epstein had served time for procuring underage prostitutes, there was no doubt what kind of man he was; yet the Prince still saw fit to spent four days under his roof.
Pictured: Prince Andrew, Sarah, Duchess of York and their children Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie in Switzerland in 2003
It is clear that, whatever else Andrew may or may not have previously known about Epstein’s predilections, from that moment on he failed completely in his moral responsibilities. Not just as a member of the Royal Family and a decent human being, but also, and perhaps more importantly, as a father.
He knew the whole story, and yet still he rode high on Epstein’s hog.
When pressed on this by Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, the Prince justified his decision by saying it was a ‘convenient place to stay’. He then added, most bizarrely, that his judgment ‘was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable’.
‘Honourable’ is not how I would describe a man who accepts hospitality from someone convicted of abusing young girls — girls so similar in age to his own daughters.
Unless he didn’t see them that way. This is the only plausible explanation. Quite simply, Andrew did not equate the wraiths who flitted around Epstein’s residences in bikinis, waiting to administer ‘foot massages’, with his two girls, safely at home in their cosseted lives. In fact, he implied as much himself in that interview. Epstein’s handmaidens were merely peripheral — in his own words — ‘staff’.
Pictured: ‘Jane Doe 15’, a 31-year-old unidentified woman who has accused the late Jeffrey Epstein of sexually abusing her when she was a child
That may also explain why he did not think it necessary to express regret or sadness at what Epstein’s victims had endured.
Quite simply, he didn’t see these girls because they’re not the sort of people a prince needs to concern himself with.
It’s an attitude that seems so at odds with the low-key approach of younger royals such as Princes William and Harry, while Princess Diana went out of her way to connect with so-called ordinary people.
Pictured: Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein in New York’s Central Park in 2011
Not so Andrew. An alumni of the Princess Margaret school of royalty (no coincidence that they are both younger siblings of more distinguished royals who earn, rather than demand, our respect), he continues to inhabit a tiny corner of monarchy where privilege still exists without accountability and where being a royal automatically marks you out as superior to the rest.
Andrew’s behaviour over the years belies this, not just in terms of his own conduct, but also when it comes to his close family.
It doesn’t matter how badly his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, has behaved. She is still ‘the Duchess’ — as he grandly referred to her in the interview — and therefore, in his mind, entitled to status and respect.
The same is true of his daughters. He has lobbied the Queen and Prince Charles to give them more prominence, and was insistent that younger daughter Eugenie be afforded full royal honours for her wedding last year.
Despite not being a working royal and being only 10th in line to the throne, she was married with full pomp and circumstance — at a cost of £2 million to the taxpayer, for security and the clean-up operation.
Beatrice is planning to marry next year, and it is hard to see how her special day can fail to be overshadowed by this whole affair.
The bitter irony for Andrew, meanwhile, is that in failing to do right by other men’s daughters, he has contributed to the distress of his own.
Why protect these urban pests?
Having successfully weaponised the issue of fox hunting at the 2017 General Election, Labour are keen to get it back on the agenda, on the grounds that voters in Labour-supporting urban areas tend to be in favour of the ban, whereas those in Conservative rural areas want it lifted.
But I’m not so sure that’s true any more. Urban fox populations have been steadily on the rise in recent years, and the animals are now a regular nuisance in cities and suburbs, rifling through rubbish and even, on occasion, attacking domestic pets and small children.
Quite apart from the mess they create and the health risks they pose, they also make the most ungodly racket. Only the other night, I was ripped from my sleep at around 3am by what sounded like someone being murdered, but which, once I had regained full conciousness, I recognised as the cry of a mating fox.
The noise continued for what seemed like an eternity — until a neighbour opposite threw open a window and chucked something at the damn things.
I wonder, is it too soon to start forming a Hammersmith Hunt?
Pictured: Khloe Kardashian at the E! People’s Choice Awards on November 10
Khloe’s one true love…
Khloe Kardashian is ‘in talks’ to develop a reality TV show starring her and her 19-month-old daughter, True. Because her child isn’t yet scarred by fame — but there’s still time.
Talking of the Kardashians, Khloe’s former stepdad, now Caitlyn Jenner, is an early favourite of the new series of I’m A Celebrity…
I expected this reality TV star and former Olympic athlete to be a pampered princess; in reality, she is thoroughly down-to-earth and an absolute trooper.
However you feel about trans rights — and Jenner is probably the world’s most famous trans woman — you can’t deny she is more comfortable in her skin than most of this year’s contestants.
If you think you’re bored with this election, then spare a thought for yours truly. For the past few days, I’ve been sharing a house with Jeremy Corbyn.
Don’t worry, I haven’t absconded with the Labour leader. My husband had been tasked with playing him against Boris Johnson in debate prep, a role that, as something of a thespian manque, he has relished.
The result? I am now more depressingly familiar with the intricacies of Labour’s election manifesto than most Labour MPs.
And all my husband’s corduroy trousers — a favourite of Jezza’s — are in the wash.
Driven round the bend
Life in the lunatic asylum that is modern Britain: a pregnant friend of mine had her car stolen from outside her house… on her due date.
She later gave birth and, as a result, has been quite busy with other things.
Then, a few days ago, she started getting parking tickets for the stolen vehicle, so she notified the police, who tracked it down to a car pound. Which is where it remains, at a cost of £120 a day, since the pound will not release it until she provides proof of ownership.
But she can’t do that because the insurance company has all the documentation… and also because she’s just had a baby and can’t remember what day it is, let alone provide 73 types of ID.
Honestly, Franz Kafka himself could not have come up with a more pointlessly infuriating situation.
I thought it was just me who didn’t terribly like Jo Swinson’s bossy, holier-than-thou election style — but it seems I’m not alone.
A YouGov poll has revealed that the more voters see of the Lib Dem leader, the less they like the look of her — which is a bit of a problem, since her face is emblazoned across all their election literature and on their battle bus.
The general consensus seems to be that people find her irritating and too ‘head-girly’, which I can appreciate.
I thought it was just me who didn’t terribly like Jo Swinson’s bossy, holier-than-thou election style — but it seems I’m not alone, writes Sarah Vine
I also wonder whether it might have something to do with the fact that she dresses rather like a children’s entertainer.
My esteemed colleague Richard Littlejohn did point out some sartorial similarities with The Joker; but he’s far too nuanced and sophisticated.
If you ask me, Mr Tumble would be a far more accurate comparison.
According to a survey, children who play Mary, Joseph or the Angel Gabriel in their school’s nativity play grow up to earn an average of £38,000 to £40,000 a year — while humble lambs manage only £20,000.
I can’t help wondering whether this has more to do with the children themselves — or the fact that, in my experience, the ones who get the starring roles are always the ones with strict ‘tiger’ mothers.
They say that the meek will inherit the Earth; in real life, it’s the pushiest who get all the prizes.
We’re used to politicians being full of hot air, but now a Democratic Congressman has caused general hilarity worldwide after reportedly passing wind during a television interview live on air.
Rather appropriately, he was discussing President Trump.