In times as uncertain as these, there is much comfort to be taken from empirical uniformities. Rivers continue to flow. Day still follows night. And just when you think he’s reached the pinnacle of human stupidity, Prince Andrew will always manage to out-stupid your wildest imagination.
Sacked from his own family and effectively living in hiding from a public that has utterly disowned him, Andrew now finds himself saddled with fresh indignities. On Friday, the Financial Times reported that after a regulatory commission found irregularities, Andrew was obliged to repay his charity, the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust, more than $380,000. That was the sum his fund had improperly paid Amanda Thirsk, a trustee of the charity and Andrew’s longtime private secretary. (Thirsk resigned after Andrew’s calamitous BBC interview about Jeffrey Epstein last November.)
And that’s just the start. Andrew is also being sued for failing to keep up payments on his luxury Swiss chalet.
In 2014, Andrew and Sarah Ferguson spent $22.5 million on a Verbier holiday home. Another $6 million was due to be paid at the end of last year. But the payment deadline was reportedly missed and now the former owners want their money. The crux of the lawsuit seems to be exactly as you’d imagine. The vendor, a former friend of the couple’s, is said to expect the outstanding balance to be readily available because Andrew and Sarah live a billionaire lifestyle and are directly related to the Queen of England. And yet the couple lost much of their income when Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was underlined hard last year.
Andrew and Sarah have reportedly claimed that they are actually planning to sell the home, and were always going to settle their account with money made from the sale. That might be easier said than done, though. Not only has the outbreak effectively halted the global housing market, but selling property in Verbier—a coronavirus hot spot so pronounced that 80 percent of patients at one medical practice had tested positive by early April—seems like an impossible task.
Andrew now finds himself saddled with the indignity of being sued for failing to keep up payments on his luxury Swiss chalet.
At this stage, it looks like Andrew has three options left: fight the case, sell the chalet at a loss, or hope that one of Sarah Ferguson’s harebrained get-rich-quick schemes—be it her book deal, her $2,000-fountain-pen line, or the bangles she wants to sell on QVC—suddenly pays off. Given his reputation, you can only assume that none of them will.
But this is how the British royal family tends to operate, glomming on to much richer friends to give their lives a billionaire sheen.
Andrew’s news broke just as it was reported that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have moved into an $18 million Tuscan-style mansion owned by Tyler Perry in the gated Beverly Ridge Estates community (previous residents of which include Paris Hilton and a woman who was fired from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), possibly thanks to their mutual friend Oprah Winfrey. If they’re paying rent, and it isn’t clear whether they are or not, it’s estimated to set them back between $20,000 and $40,000 a month.
It’s a wonderful system while it lasts—Harry and Meghan get to brush up against the Hollywood establishment they clearly idolize, while Perry gets to bask in the glow of knowing that he’s housing royalty—but all it would take is a few missed payments and it could all come crashing down around them. If they aren’t careful, they could also find themselves at the mercy of an Andrew-style lawsuit. Or worse. If we see Meghan cringing her way through an extended cameo in Boo 3! Madea’s Halloween in Space, we’ll know something has gone drastically wrong.
Stuart Heritage is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL based in Kent, U.K.