CW: mentions of r*pe and CSA
“I’ve had the [Epstein] story for 3 years … we would not put it on the air … the Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways” Amy Robach, ABC News Anchor
Virginia Roberts tells how she was groomed as a sex slave for Jeffrey Epstein (later convicted of soliciting underage girls as young as 14) when she was 15, and how she was flown especially in Epstein’s Lolita Express to London for the pleasure of Prince Andrew when she was just 17. Flight logs and a photo of the girl with Andrew’s arm around her lend firm credibility to the story. She apparently met with Andrew in New York and on Epstein’s private Caribbean island. Andrew was known to be friends with Epstein for the best part of 20 years, but the relationship continued after his conviction as a sex offender.
According to Vanity Fair, a friend of Andrew’s admitted that ‘after Jeffrey was convicted, I phoned Andrew and told him, ‘You cannot have a relationship with Jeffrey. You can’t do these things.’ And he said, ‘Stop giving me a hard time. You’re such a puritan.’ From there, our conversation descended into a screaming match, and finally Andrew said, ‘Leave me alone. Jeffrey’s my friend. Being loyal to your friends is a virtue. And I’m going to be loyal to him.’
The FBI linked Epstein to about 40 young women and children. An Epstein employee swore under oath that Andrew attended Epstein’s naked pool parties and received massages from groups of adolescent girls. The girls in question were asked under oath whether they had any sexual interaction with Andrew and they refused to respond.
When the scandal broke in the media, eventually, the government upheld Prince Andrew in the face of strong evidence of serious misconduct. David Cameron said he ‘fully supported’ Andrew in his official position. The Queen herself intervened on Andrew’s behalf, in a symbolic act she invested him with the insignia of a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (apparently the highest possible honour for ‘personal service’ to the Queen). An American judge ordered allegations against Prince Andrew struck from the court record. There were rumours that the Queen called in some favours. After their initial furore, the media soon swept the matter under the carpet.
Investigating the Royals with anything but obsequious intentions is nigh on impossible, their image is so closely guarded and tightly controlled. Most classified state documents are kept secret for 20 years. With the Royals it’s often 100 years – long enough to nullify the damage. As Peter Morgan, The Crown creator, states ‘Authorised royal biographers are so straitjacketed, deferential, fawning and unadventurous that they can only be after a knighthood,’ he said.
Everything these people do is considered important. Important enough to waste reams of column inches. With headlines like ‘Prince Harry Gets His Beard Rubbed’ and ‘Meghan Markle Opens Car Door’. The sort of trivia that ordinary people do all the time without any great fanfare – like celebrate a birthday, or close a car door – are met with thunderous applause. Ironically, this is an attempt to humanise the Royals, make them relatable and give a sense of intimate connection. Yet, no-one else except celebrities (who more often than not, at least have a talent for something) receives such attention for such things.
The British corporate and state media pay people huge sums of money to make decisions about what stories are worthy of broadcast. There is a near-infinite variety to choose from: and yet, we are regularly subjected to stories about the inane trivia of the Royals’ lives. This is not by accident. Not only is it based on the eugenicist idea that the Royals are somehow genetically more special than the rest of us, but it is a cynical ploy to tie the public into a real-life family soap-story, which attempts to bind their interests to the British ruling class while distracting them from the important business of class warfare being waged against them and their fellow working classes around the world, by that very same British ruling class. Clever, eh?
When the engagement of Harry and Meghan was announced 12,221 news stories were published within 24 hours. How many different ways do they need to say: ‘Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got engaged’?; one of the great ‘who cares?’ events of any epoch. There were front page covers and souvenir editions of all the major papers, endless hours of TV and radio broadcasting that even drives otherwise sycophantic royal correspondents to despair. I can almost sympathise, it is asking too much of any human being to sustain enthusiasm for such a bunch of witless, pompous, insufferable parasites for such a length of time.
The BBC dedicated over 50% of its coverage to the announcement, but conveniently omitted to inform us that the government would be freezing social security for the next 12 months, meaning a loss of £315 a year for the average working family. News that a prominent Tory had criticised Britain’s role in the despicable war on Yemen. This is a regular tactic in the British media playbook. Thatcher’s regime planned to use news about Prince William to drown out possible coverage of a CND protest against government nuclear warfare policy in 1983, for example.
The media has an even more sinister role in whipping up the more easily manipulated and more reactionary sections of the population into a frenzy about the Royals: this was the clear culprit in the death of Jacintha Saldanha – a nurse who killed herself under media pressure for unwittingly breaching the privacy of Kate Middleton (to radio pranksters while Kate was in hospital).
Of course, the media claim they’re just giving the people what they want. But when they speak of ‘the people’ they refer only to the people who agree with them, not people of goodwill who object to the force-fed cult worship of an almost millennium-old, anti-democratic monarchy. But it has to be conceded that there is a significant minority in this Benighted Kingdom who are unable or unwilling to see through the propaganda. There are 2 types of Royalist – fools and knaves. And the knaves are either sadists or masochists – herds of bleaters and brayers engrossed in the minutiae of the overprivileged, overentitled lives of those who consider them inferior. It tends to be the Union Jack underpants-wearing gammon and Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells types so common to Middle England. So prone to weak-willed mimesis, desperate to impress their ‘betters’ and look down on their ‘inferiors’, to suck up and shit down, fawning, obsequious and obstreperous, who prefer to spread boot polish on their toast in the morning, instead of butter.
I try to be patient and understand. Honestly, I do. I have to remind myself of the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling propaganda saturation the British public are subjected to from birth. Personally, I’ve firewalled myself from most of such flat deception. There’s a certain amount that is unavoidable. But I forget that people play an active role in their own deception: they buy expensive cinema tickets to go and see such sickening historical revisionism as The Gathering Storm or Darkest Hour: for example, ‘films like Victoria & Abdul seek to absolve our barbaric behaviour in colonised countries’, filmmaker, Amrou Al-Kadhi, reminds us. They criticised the white-washing of the British Raj and the ‘offensive two-dimensionality’ of Abdul’s character, who is shown kissing the feet of Queen Victoria and expressing gratitude for being among the ‘glorious people’ of the British Empire. Then there’s The King’s Speech, which attempts to elicit sympathy for an outright Nazi sympathiser on the basis that he had a speech impediment.
This is no accident. The Royal Family themselves make a deliberate and concerted attempt to control how the public perceives them. 1992 was the Queen’s annus horribilis: the marriages of Charles and Andrew failed, Windsor Castle caught fire, Sarah Ferguson was exposed getting her toes sucked. Elizabeth took decisive measures. She set up ‘The Way Ahead Group’ with her husband, children and grandchildren, plus senior courtiers to forestall future threats to their position. The group convenes every 6 months and doesn’t keep minutes. They quickly came up with some ideas to improve their public image: volunteer to pay (some) taxes, open Buckingham Palace to visitors, and decommission the Royal yacht (the Queen later wanted it back, but never mind).
The most potent weapon in the Windsors’ PR arsenal was Princess Diana. Her lustration threatened their image severely. But Diana’s reputation was equally undeserved. Her estate included stocks, a £17M divorce settlement, jewellery, expensive fashion, which she passed on in its entirety (apart from something like £50k to her butler, Paul Burrell, and some other tidbits) to her already filthy rich sons. This great philanthropist and lover of humanity had not a single penny for worthy causes.
But, whatever the Royals get up to, it’s the media that is the most powerful force in controlling the narrative and how it is presented (and spun). One example is when David Jason told an anecdote about the Queen describing a foreign diplomat as ‘I thought I was talking to a gorilla’, the BBC presenter laughingly characterises it as ‘cheeky’, rather than xenophobic or (most likely) racist. It happens time and time again. Of course, the media exploit the lurid stories as well, but there’s always a limit and it’s always temporary. The lurid stories are a short abatement in the continuous stream of fluffing. There’s no other explanation for the fact that Britain is somehow considered an example of democracy. Or that the Queen’s friends, Sandhurst-trained emirs, sultans, sheiks on the Arabian Gulf, show how much Britain favours ‘freedom’.
No, I don’t like the Royals, for the same reason I don’t like tapeworm, cockroaches or vermin. I can understand liking the Royals say, if you’re of especially sycophantic, you’re the ultimate snob and you secretly despise yourself or if you’re simply a person of low standards. I mean, we have a Queen, for heaven’s sake. A Queen! That’s supposed to be relegated to long, distant history and fairy tales, no? We have to call her things like ‘Your Majesty’. Like she’s all majestic, like an eagle. Or a mountain. She’s just a person. A little old lady in a shiny hat—that we paid for. Or ‘Your Highness’! What? She’s high up, above us, at the top of a class pyramid on a shelf of money with her own face depicted on it? We should be calling her Mrs. Windsor, at best. It’s time to see the Royal family for what they really are: parasites with enormous power and influence, deeply embedded in imperialist capitalism and a figurehead for Britain’s ruling class.