Another week, another Prince Andrew debacle, another predictable chorus of outrage from the tabloids. What a relief it must have been, then, that this latest imbroglio had nothing to do with under-age girls but that more prosaic minor-royal old chestnut—money. Namely, Andrew and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson’s reported failure to repay a $8 million debt owed to the vendor of the Swiss chalet they bought together for $21.7 million in 2014 in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.
I thought I’d have a look into how they got themselves into this latest mess, but along the way I was repeatedly pulled back to an old one: Jeffrey Epstein. Remember Andrew’s painful BBC performance last November, when he couldn’t quite explain away his 2010 stay with his old chum? It wasn’t about the massages, as some had speculated, or the breaking off of their relationship, as Andrew suggested to the BBC. The real issue may have been money; Andrew needed around $4 million, and fast. In 2011, three years after Epstein’s first conviction, and only months after the newly released convict threw Andrew a dinner party at his mansion in New York, reportedly to celebrate his release, at which Andrew was said to have been the guest of honor (though the prince denies this), Ferguson tearfully admitted that Prince Andrew’s office had arranged for Jeffrey Epstein to pay off her former assistant, whom she owed around $108,402, with Epstein apparently bargaining the sum down to $28,850.