Shame of thrones – how the House of Windsor was built on sex and scandal

There are probably more people who believe in a flat Earth than that Prince Andrew did not have sex with Virginia Roberts.

He has, of course, denied it, if pretty disastrously in a BBC interview, claiming, despite photographic evidence, that he had never met her, that he was out in Woking eating pizza rather than failing to sweat on the dance floor of a crowded London night club boogying with Virginia and the rest.

Roberts, or Giuffre as she is known since her marriage, in a US civil action last week against the prince, cites at least two other bouts of sexual abuse, in New York and on Jeffrey Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands. She claims she was trafficked and, at 17, was then under the legal age of consent when she was coerced into the sex.

Andrew had been asked to give evidence to the FBI by the US Justice Department in the Epstein inquiry and, after more than a year, has apparently stonewalled the request. There have been no attempts to subpoena him, and for Roberts to successfully sue the prince for damages she would first have to have the papers served on him, which would be extremely difficult, but not impossible.

No sweat, Andy

EVEN if she did serve them, and although the US has an extradition treaty with Britain, it does not cover civil matters. So, even if he could, Andrew needn’t break sweat about it and he will continue to hunker down in royal quarters and ignore it all.

In one of the unseemly coincidences of this shoddy business Epstein’s victims, like Giuffre, would have been time-barred from taking action under US law. But the then-New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned after a string of alleged sexual assaults, signed into law the New York Child Victims Act, giving those whose claims had been time-barred a one-year window to start their action. It expired yesterday, hence Giuffre’s last-gasp case.

The killer king

THE British royal family has been mired in sex and scandal for centuries. The most infamous, Henry VIII, was 17 when he was crowned king, the first one in nearly 100 years to ascend to the throne peacefully. His old man, Henry VII, seized the throne at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 (well, not literally), defeating Richard III, the last monarch from the House of York.

It’s doubtful if Henry is remembered for anything more than beheading two of his six wives, setting up his own church to have two marriages annulled after the Pope refused to do it, closing down monasteries and plunging a formerly united country into chaos, with churches attacked and burned, and priests lynched. Which is quite enough.

Queen Victoria’s uncle, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, was the fifth son of George III, and a truly mean cove. His face was scarred from fighting in the Hanoverian war, and he coveted the British throne. He was vicious and violent, and he opposed both social and political reform. It was rumoured that he had raped several noblewomen and impregnated his own sister, Sophia.

In a closed-door mystery which probably inspired Agatha Christie, his reputation was finally shredded one dark night in 1810 when he leapt out of bed, screaming for his servants, saying he had been attacked and struck violently in the head several times.

His valet Joseph Sellis didn’t respond to his shouts. Sellis’s door was bolted from the inside and after it was forced, the valet was discovered tucked up in bed and nearly decapitated from a slash from a straight razor.

Cumberland claimed – and an inquest agreed – that the valet committed suicide, but most people believed, perhaps because they wanted to, that Sellis had been attacked by Cumberland. When Victoria became Queen, Cumberland became the heir presumptive and it was feared that on another dark night he would murder her. In the event Victoria gave birth to an heir so there was no double murder and Cumberland moved down the pecking order. Still, Ernest ended up as King of Hanover – don’t ask, it’s too complicated.

Nazi sympathisers

THE recent generations of the House of Windsor have created their own muck and mayhem. In 1936, Edward VIII took the throne and abdicated less than a year later so that he could marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. The Church of England, which you might have thought would be a bit more liberal given the antics of the guy who set it up, forbade the monarch marrying a divorcee. The two were also Nazi sympathisers who visited and praised Hitler and other future mass-murderers.

You would have imagined that Prince Harry might have thought about this unsavoury forebear when he dressed up as a Nazi for a party in 2005 and ended up splashed across the front page of The Sun dressed in a tropical Wehrmacht uniform with a swastika on his arm.

Being a party animal he was on the front of The Sun seven years later, this time totally sans uniform of any description. The photograph was taken by another party member during a game of strip billiards in a hotel suite in Las Vegas. Well, we’ve all been there.

Perhaps it was in the genes. In 1992, his mother, Diana, had been embarrassed when a transcript of a telephone call between her and her alleged lover James Gilbey was leaked. Gilbey said he loved her and called her Squidgy 53 times – just the sort of endearment to encourage phone sex.

Charles was just as bad and got caught in the same way several months later when an Australian magazine published a transcript of a bedtime call between him and Camilla, then Parker Bowles. In it (skip to the next paragraph now if you are sensitive) he told Camilla that he wished he was a tampon so that “I’ll just live inside your trousers or something”.

Three years later, the sham marriage in tatters, Diana sat down with Martin Bashir to say there were three in it, Camilla being the extra, and that she, too, had been unfaithful and had been in love with her riding instructor, James Hewitt.

A royal affair

KEEPING up? Charles’s sister Anne was also in the soapy over intimate letters written to her by her equerry Timothy Laurence. It was 1992 and she was still married to former Olympic show jumper Mark Phillips. Anne quickly unsaddled from that marriage and, hurdling royal protocol, married Laurence.

In that same year, 1992, royal plunges from grace got even steeper when Prince Andrew’s wife Sarah Ferguson, HRH The Duchess of York, aka “Fergie”, was pictured lying topless on a sunbed at a villa in the south of France while her “financial adviser” John Bryan licked her toes.

Not so, protested Bryan, “I was kissing them”.

Fergie was staying with the Queen at Balmoral and when they came down to breakfast to see the snaps of her toes being licked in the newspaper that was it, she was banished.

She was subsequently “stung” by the News Of The World, asking for £500,000 to arrange access to Prince Andy, who lives nearby in the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. She then tried to sue the Rupert Murdoch organisation, owner of the paper, for £25 million for lost earnings and damage to her reputation, the case collapsing.

As a senior royal, it seems Prince Andrew has no reputation to damage.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992