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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Nevermind Meghan Markle, why aren’t we talking about Prince Andrew?

As an international student from London, England, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is: “What is your opinion on Meghan Markle?” While Markle has received a lot of press attention in recent years since her marriage to Prince Harry and resignation from royal duties, otherwise known as “Megxit,” I argue that there is another much more problematic member of the family who seems to have almost gotten away with it. 

The person I am talking about is Prince Andrew, who was discovered to have highly personal involvement with the most famous pedophile, predator and sex trafficker in the world, Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Andrew also had a close relationship with Epstein’s right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell, who is now serving 20 years in prison for conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors. 

It was one photograph that changed our view of the queen’s “favorite son” forever. It was from over a decade ago, in 2010, when Prince Andrew was photographed in conversation with Jeffrey Epstein while walking through Central Park in New York. It propelled a young woman and mother of three, Virginia Roberts Guiffre, beforehand only known as Jane Doe 102, to come out with her shocking story. 

Roberts had been coerced by Maxwell to enter the disturbing and twisted world of Esptein at the mere age of 17 while working at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago spa, and during her time of horrifying exploitation she had had two encounters with the Prince. The first when she was 17, and the second was when she had just turned 18 years old. 

Roberts, who accused Prince Andrew of sexually abusing and raping her as a minor, was received with suspicion at the time, as press offices such as the Daily Mail reported that “There is no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.” However, in 2022, the Prince paid out a $13 million settlement to Roberts to settle the suit. This added further fuel to the speculation against him.  

What truly shocked the British public, and indeed the world, was Prince Andrew’s interview on BBC Newsnight with Emily Maitlis where he revealed himself to have no remorse for his friendship or association with the pedophile Epstein. When asked if he regretted his friendship with Epstein, he immediately objected, stating that the opportunities he got from it “were actually very useful.” Surprised? Shocked? Shaken? We all were, as the queen’s favourite son and celebrated war hero showed zero regret for his association. 

People aren’t ready for his return,” Anna Whitelock, royal commentator and historian, said.

But contrary to popular belief, there are hints that he is returning to public life. 

You would think that while King Charles is trying to establish his own identity and set the tone of his liberal rule, bringing back the palace’s public enemy No.1 would be a bad move, right? Well, evidence suggests otherwise after he was photographed in a car with Prince William and Kate Middleton on their family’s annual stay in Balmoral, Scotland. 

But while there is speculation that Charles is slowly forgiving his brother, it is noticeable that he is not extending the same olive branch to his son. While Harry is due to be in England for the WellChild Awards on Sept. 7, the day before the anniversary of the Queen’s death, The Daily Beast reported that he “is not likely to see his father or brother, and will not be expected to attend any private or public family gatherings to mark the late queen’s passing.”

At that point, the conversation quickly turns to Harry, Spare, Meghan Markle and the Oprah interview. If you search the name Prince Andrew, only a handful of articles have been published in the past 24 hours, most of which link back to Harry. On the other hand, if you search up Meghan Markle or Prince Harry the search bar floods with articles from Meghan’s make-up artist getting plastic surgery to their appearance at the Beyonce Renaissance tour, with Prince Andrew nowhere to be seen. 

So what is our obsession with this infamous couple? And why does it constantly overshadow darker and more disturbing dynamics that brew within the royal family? Is out of sight, out of mind really what is going on here? Either way, it is a dynamic that needs to be under further investigation. While the tabloids cannot get enough of Markle and sparkles, we are taking attention away from a real monster lurking behind closed curtains at Balmoral Castle.

Lucy Carrier-Pilkington is an international exchange student from London, England. She is currently a junior studying history, political science and journalism. You can contact her at lcarrier@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.