As the furore about Prince Harry and Spare finally shows some signs of dying down – the book’s second week sales dropped 82 per cent, albeit with a wildly impressive 82,538 copies sold – it is time, once again, for his uncle to take centre stage. It seems as if the beleaguered and not-so-grand Duke of York has been involved in one scandal after another recently, and this week has been no exception.
Firstly, it has been made clear by King Charles that his disgraced brother can have no further official dealings with Buckingham Palace. His offices in the building have been closed down and he has now been informed that he will no longer be able to use the suite of rooms that he had access to, which – if the more sensational coverage is to be believed – he used as a kind of mid-life crisis bachelor pad. He is to be offered accommodation at St James’s Palace instead, if he needs it. But as one well-briefed courtier informed the Sun, ‘a bachelor’s flat in St James’s Palace doesn’t have the same allure for a single man.’
Yet the far more bizarre story that has come to light this week also hinges on Prince Andrew’s much-discussed status as a single man. It has been announced that he is seeking to overturn the allegedly multi-million pound settlement that he paid to Virginia Giuffre last February over allegations of sexual abuse, and a photograph has been supplied to the Daily Telegraph by the family of the Duke’s friend, the imprisoned socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, which is designed to indicate his innocence in the matter.
It is a strange picture. It shows a bath, in which two of Maxwell’s friends are sitting, fully clothed and with makeshift masks depicting the faces of Prince Andrew and Giuffre.