Prince Andrew has been accused of some terrible things of late: sleeping with a teenager provided by his friend Jeffrey Epstein, fostering unsavory business deals with louche oligarchs, stiffing the owner of his luxury Swiss chalet. The list goes on and on. But now, thanks to a former model who spoke to the Daily Mail, we have been made aware of the oddest accusation yet.
During his now notorious visit to Epstein’s New York home in 2010—the visit Andrew claims was made with the sole intention of breaking ties—the prince, according to the unnamed accuser, received a foot rub from two Russian models as he watched The King’s Speech, the film that came out that year about George VI that starred Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. The accusation lines up, since it matches an account made by literary agent John Brockman—who claimed to have seen “a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women” during his visit to the Epstein house—but this is the first time we’ve heard which film he may have been watching.
If it’s true, we now know what gets Prince Andrew off. It’s having his feet rubbed while he watches a movie about his own grandfather. But, hey, honi soit qui mal y pense. Everyone likes different things. Andrew apparently likes being stroked by models while he watches his mother being played by a little girl on television.
But such is the torrent of news about Prince Andrew that this latest creepy nugget failed to make much of a splash last week. It was overshadowed by the decision to put a formal end to the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust, following an investigation by the U.K. Charity Commission over $380,000 of payments made to Andrew’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, who was also a former trustee of his charity.
Andrew apparently likes being stroked by models while he watches his mother being played by a little girl on television.
It’s an ignominious ending for the trust, but at least it saves recipients the headache of how to react when they receive a donation from the world’s worst person. According to Prince Andrew’s Web site, the trust was never all that clearly defined anyway. It existed to help “bodies where The Duke has a particular link or interest.” There is a very good chance that we’re all thinking of the same joke here.
More is also becoming clear on the unconventional method through which Andrew paid for his fur-draped Verbier chalet. To raise funds for the property, Andrew and Sarah Ferguson apparently took out a mortgage for much less than the chalet was worth, with the promise that the remainder would be paid off as a deferred lump sum—with interest—in December. When that payment failed to transpire, presumably owing to the utter cratering of Andrew’s reputation as a human being, the vendor summoned her lawyers.
Things are looking only slightly better for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are learning that privacy in L.A. is harder to come by than a Botox-free forehead. Their $18 million refuge, owned by Tyler Perry, must have seemed like the height of seclusion when they moved in, but now that Los Angeles County has reopened the Beverly Drive–Franklin Canyon Connector hiking trail, the Daily Mail reports that they have realized that strangers can now wander all the way up to the edge of their property and gawk right in. If the screens that the couple erected in a hurry last weekend are any indication, this is going to be a bumpy transition for them. You’d expect more from a property with a monthly rental cost said to be $240,000.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are learning that privacy in L.A. is harder to come by than a Botox-free forehead.
But then again, privacy might not necessarily be their goal here. After Meghan shared footage of their son, Archie, on Save the Children’s Instagram page, Harry has followed suit by indiscriminately Zooming his little socks off. In the last week or so he has made videos for the BBC’s early-evening magazine program, The One Show; for the Invictus Games; for the youth charity OnSide; and for Thomas the Tank Engine’s 75th anniversary. Indeed, now that the Queen has effectively been forced into quarantine for the foreseeable future, there’s a good argument for calling Harry the highest-profile royal of the day. That’s some doing, considering that he isn’t even royal anymore.
And his wife might not be too far behind. Little by little, the Sussexes are amassing an almighty team in their quest to make a dent in a world that has bigger things on its mind. Their latest recruit is said to be Rebecca Mostow, an adviser who has previously worked for Seal, the Beckhams, and Prince. With such a powerful squad attached, Meghan should rocket to the Hollywood A-list once the world starts to take its first steps back toward normality. But first she is determined to tell her side of the story.
Meghan is said by the Daily Mail to want to bring the publication of the couple’s authorized biography, Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, forward from August, so desperate is she to “shatter this image of being a demanding diva who was rude to royal staffers and others on her quest for fame and power.” If the book doesn’t achieve that, maybe she’ll try publishing her diaries. This week it was revealed that Meghan kept a chronicle of her innermost thoughts during her time in the U.K. that could eventually form the basis of a tell-all memoir.
But if that doesn’t work, and the roles that Meghan expects don’t show up, at least there is some good news. Lifetime, which has made such classics as Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance and Harry and Meghan: Becoming Royal, has announced that it is making a third film, entitled Harry and Meghan: Escaping the Palace. If Meghan knuckles down and really does the work, there is a fighting chance that she might make the short list to play herself.
Stuart Heritage is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL based in Kent, U.K.