The paradoxical integrity of our dodgy honours system

We are told that the Prince of Wales had no idea at the time that his underlings were offering to sell honours to random zillionaires. That’s lucky. Instead of being tarred by the sticky brush of corruption, then, he emerges from this minor scandal as a benign old nitwit, shovelled from one place to another by his suited aides, shaking hands and offering tea to this Russian biznizman, that Chinese philanthropist, that Saudi moneybags (‘Mahfouz bin Mahfouz, Sir. Very important chap. Great benefactor.’ ‘Yes, jolly good. Have you come far, Mr Mahfouz?’) I’m inclined to take the denial that he knew what was going on pretty much at face value. It’s