Prince Andrew’s settlement is all about the PR and nothing else

This week it was announced that Prince Andrew’s accuser in the sexual misconduct/abuse/trafficking/sweating case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre had been settled out of court. The size of the settlement has not been made known, and although it included vague statements about how Andrew understood that sexual abuse was not a good thing, it did not include any admission of wrongdoing on his part. 

Which was always going to happen. 

A lengthy trial in which Andrew would have spent huge amounts of time on the stand has been avoided, albeit at gigantic financial cost. But, given the fact that his 2019 interview on British TV was one of the great PR disasters of all time, that seems like money well spent for the royal family. In that interview Andrew managed to appear unlikeable, arrogant, dim-witted and untrustworthy — all at the same time, which is a considerable achievement. 

Highlights of the debacle include statements that he only spent time with Jeffrey Epstein, the Caligula of the Caribbean, because he was “too honourable” and the much meme-ed claims about an inability to sweat due to heroic service in the Falklands War.

But really, the whole thing was never about the sex trafficking of underage girls. It was about PR and the Queen’s 70th anniversary. The last thing one wants during one’s 70th Jubilee year is a scandalous trial revealing how gross privilege resulted in one of the most useless human beings since the invention of Mark Thatcher committing crimes that should have put him in jail. It does tend to undermine the PR message of how the royal family is a worthy institution that adds value to the UK.

Which is, perhaps, what this is really about. 

The royal family and their supporters claim that the royal family “only” cost the state a Royal Grant of about £80-million a year. And you know that people are out of touch with the real world when the word “only” is used in the same sentence as £80-million. Less loyal subjects of HRH claim that the real cost is much higher. The anti-monarchy group Republic got to a figure of about £345-million a year, by adding numerous other estimated expenses made by royals (including costs of security, lord lieutenants and for royal visits) to the Royal Grant. 

The argument by royalists, is that the royal family deserves this ocean of 

money — when it could instead fund trivial things like hospitals or education in deprived areas — because the Windsors are an economic asset to the UK. Why are they an economic asset? The answer in the past was always that they provide good PR that drives tourism. Well given the nature of the PR they are currently providing, it seems that is questionable.

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John Davenport
John Davenport is the chief creative officer of Havas Southern Africa.

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