For the JC June 15 2020
Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace — by Jenni Frazer
In every generation, we might accept, there are Jews whose names we utter with pride — and there are those whom we would rather the wider world did not identify as Jews, because their behaviour puts them so far beyond the Pale.
For men like the disgraced Bernie Madoff and Harvey Weinstein, financial and sexual predators respectively, some sort of justice may have been awarded. For Jeffrey Epstein, however, who served one prison sentence and may have been determined not to serve another, earthly justice was not an option, as he was found dead in his prison cell in August 2019.
But as Nigel Cawthorne shows in his meticulously researched book, Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace, the trail of evil which was Jeffrey Epstein’s unhappy legacy continues to haunt the headlines today. Epstein was not a career criminal as we have come to know that term: but he was, plainly, a dedicated paedophile who made it his life’s work to seek out ever younger girls for sexual abuse.
Caught up in the entrails of Epstein’s obsession were two main players, the hapless Prince Andrew, said to be the Queen’s favourite child, and Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the controversial Robert, who came to his own unhappy end in 1991. The media tycoon variously fell to his death by accident, or was pushed, or committed suicide from the deck of his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, named for his youngest daughter.
She moved to America in the wake of Maxwell’s death and became a socialite and — more importantly — the alleged procuress for Epstein in providing him with a string of young women whom he was able to abuse. Andrew, for his part, was wooed by, and became friends with, Epstein, but affected to have no knowledge of the pederast’s behaviour, despite accepting his hospitality and staying with him in his various homes on several occasions.
No-one comes out of Cawthorne’s account smelling of roses, not least the Buckingham Palace “politburo”, whose job it surely was to preserve Prince Andrew’s reputation in the public eye, and spectacularly failed to do so. Cawthorne devotes considerable space — deservedly so — in unpicking Emily Maitlis’s astonishing Newsnight interview with Andrew in November 2019. With each of Maitlis’s sledgehammer questions about his relationship with Epstein, the viewer then, and the reader now, is left asking only “Why?” Why on earth would the prince’s supposed advisers and protectors allow him to go on the BBC and show the world what his inner circle had apparently always known — that he is irredeemably thick?
A hugely popular four-part documentary, Filthy Rich, preceded the publication of Cawthorne’s book and covers much of the same available material. As the camera lingers on the outside walls of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, the eye is drawn to his initials, JE, and, of all things, a mezuzah. I couldn’t help wondering how anyone who could be bothered to put up a mezuzah could launch himself on a lifestyle so diametrically opposed to any concept of Judaic values. Undoubtedly we will never know, and Cawthorne skates over Epstein’s background — and, to be fair, that of Ghislaine Maxwell — with the confidence that the protagonists’ religion was largely irrelevant.
Instead, we learn more than we ever wanted or needed to know about Epstein’s predilections, how he courted the famous — Andrew, Bill Clinton, even Woody Allen — and the terrible, distressing stories of his victims.
This is a punishing but probably necessary read, a forensic unpicking of a particular form of wickedness undertaken to feed one man’s hideous appetites. And this is a story which won’t go away, since despite Epstein’s death, American prosecutors still want Prince Andrew to testify in person about just what he knew of his late “friend’s” activities.
At least one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, maintains that the prince had sex with her after an introduction by Ghislaine Maxwell, something Andrew denies. Reading Cawthorne’s book, one is tempted to quote Mandy Rice-Davies: “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”
Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace is published by Gibson Square Books price £20