A ‘giant of a principled man’.
That’s how Prince Andrew was described recently.
(Admittedly it was by his ex wife, a woman whose judgement is famously as flawed as a gargoyle with acne.)
But now Prince Andrew has a chance to show if he really is the moral man he’d have us believe.
And if he does have, as he told Emily Maitlis in that car-crash interview, “a tendency to be too honourable”, then now’s the time to show it.
This morning more than 30 flights will leave London for New York.
Andrew could be on any one of them if he wanted to get over there, sit down with FBI officers investigating his mate Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking, tell his version of the friendship with a convicted paedophile, and clear his name for good.
And yet, and yet I bet my mortgage he won’t be doing any of that. Most likely, despite his protestations that he’ll be happy to help the FBI, I’ll bet he will be dragged across the Atlantic kicking his golden feet.
For the evidence against the Queen’s favourite son is mounting.
Lisa Bloom, lawyer for victims of Epstein, told This Morning yesterday that she has a woman who claims she “vividly remembers” seeing Andrew in the Tramp nightclub with Virginia Roberts – the woman kept as a sex slave by Epstein.
This is crucial. For in the Maitlis interview Andrew said he was “convinced that I was never in Tramp’s” with her.
He reckoned he’d spent the day playing happy families at Pizza Express with his daughters before returning home with them because Fergie was away.
Throughout the disastrous interview he stuck to his line that he had no recollection of meeting Virginia and denied ever having sex with her, saying: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.”
Yet in her Panorama interview this week, Virginia told of quite clear memories. As she said with shocking openness: “One thing that I can tell you is you never forget the face of someone who has heaved over you.”
It’s impossible for us to know who is lying and who is telling the truth. But to the casual observer one certainly seems far more compelling in their account.
It is, of course, possible Virginia is lying or mistaken about what she remembers. Prince Andrew may never have had sex with her (although fault for his friendship with a convicted paedophile remains.)
But the reputation of this so-called ‘principled’ man already lies in tatters. His work is over. His standing in our monarchy on the floor. There can be little doubt that when his brother takes the throne he’ll rarely be seen again. Airbrushed from royal history.
If he is innocent, he needs to get out to the US immediately to fight for his reputation and that of his entire family who have been blemished by the allegations.
Once proved innocent he’ll be able to return with his head held high.
If not, may he never return again.