London Diary: Royal follies of the enfant terrible

If you haven’t watched a cookie crumble in slow motion, you can do it now, courtesy Prince Andrew, Queen’s pampered son with a reputation as a “playboy” and penchant for attracting controversies

London Diary: Royal follies of the enfant terrible
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Hasan Suroor

If you haven’t watched a cookie crumble or a car crash in slow motion, you can do it now —-courtesy Britain’s Prince Andrew, Queen’s most pampered son with a reputation as a “playboy” and penchant for attracting controversies.

Between him and his former wife Sarah Ferguson they have kept the tabloids in business with stories of their free-wheeling lifestyle —of dodgy financial arrangements, shadowy friends, and sheer stupidity. But finally, he appears to have run out of luck and finds himself thrust at the centre of the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal amid allegations of having had sex with minor girls at Epstein’s homes in different parts of the world, including New York and London.

The conventional wisdom is that if you’re in a hole, don’t dig it. But Andrew being Andrew he did exactly the opposite by giving what has come to be known as a “car crash interview” to the BBC in an attempt to clear the air. In the event, he has ended up making things worse for himself.

Far from being contrite or showing any remorse, he tried to portray his alleged victims as liars. Worse, his tone of levity and a lack of awareness of the gravity of his situation shocked even his friends and family members, including apparently the Queen.

Asked in the interview if he had ever engaged in sex with “any young woman trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein”, he replied: “No, and without putting too fine a point on it, if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything.”

After this sort of answer, nobody could hope to survive. Within hours, he had been stripped of all royal duties; businesses and high-profile sponsors rushed to dissociate themselves from various bodies he was associated with; at least one university dropped him as its chancellor while others are under pressure from students to sack him because of his “association with a known paedophile”.

What must have really stung him was his doting mother’s decision to cancel his 60th birthday party amid concern that the scandal was overshadowing the work of other members of the royal family.

What a fall!

“Live” from Parliament

It’s 30 years since the first television broadcast from Britain’s House of Commons. The first to face the camera was the Conservative MP, Ian Gow, and he began by saying that all MPs had received a letter from an image consultant offering a makeover, but he was not inclined to accept the offer as he thought he was “beyond redemption”.

The man who followed him — David Sumberg, another Tory — claimed to have better TV credentials. He had been a contestant on a programme called the “Sale of the Century”.

“What better training ground could there be for influencing my support for the government’s privatisation policy?” he said referring to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s controversial agenda of privatising public services.

What happened to these two gentlemen?

Gow was killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, who exploded a bomb under his car outside his home in East Sussex. Sumberg lost his seat in the 1997 Labour landslide and became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) two years later. A fellow MEP called him “Britain’s laziest MEP”.

He stood down in 2009 and has been in political wilderness ever since.

Four coffees a day...

A new day, and a new research theory to put conventional wisdom on its head. The latest is that drinking coffee is not only NOT harmful for those prone to hypertension but has a positive effect and is strongly recommended.

A study by European scientists says that drinking up to four coffees a day can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. It claims that “long-term coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of hypertension”, and there is “an association between coffee consumption and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes”.

Researchers from universities of Navarre in Spain and Catania in Italy examined existing studies on the link between coffee consumption and metabolic syndrome, which affects one in four adults and is described by Britain’s health authorities as a “particularly dangerous” combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity raising the risk of heart disease and strokes.

But before you rush to the nearest coffee shop for an extra-large Latte, beware that the research was commissioned by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee which is funded by coffee companies.

And, lastly, Britain’s Channel 4 chose a novel way of shaming Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage after they refused to take part in a leaders’ debate on climate change. It “replaced” them with two melting ice sculptures. By the end of the debate they had melted away into thin air.

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