Still, if only the prince’s bewilderment – and that of many others – had kicked in rather earlier. Part of me wonders whether something like the Vietnam war had robbed HRH of the ability to feel bewildered during his friendship with Epstein. Otherwise he might have felt bewildered as to why his middle-aged friend was so often surrounded by teenage girls. He might have felt it bewildering to go to Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, reportedly after a visit to Tramp nightclub, and pass the rest of the evening with two other people in their 40s and a 17-year-old girl. Unless he knew exactly what was going on, that situation should have bewildered the shit out of him. (I should mention that Prince Andrew is bewildered by anyone who fails to accept he wasn’t there that night, but at Pizza Express in Woking.)
This, alas, is why it’s so hard to believe all the frightful bollocks about “not knowing” being spouted by so many rich and powerful former friends of Epstein. One of the most telling admissions in Filthy Rich, the Epstein documentary currently showing on Netflix, comes from the former telephone engineer on Epstein’s private island. “You tell yourself that you didn’t know for sure and you never really saw anything, but that’s all just rationalisation. Jeffrey Epstein, he was a guy who concealed his deviance very well – but he didn’t conceal it that well.”
Well, quite. There are many cases of huge and systematic abuse where we still pander to the people who turned a blind eye to it, by saying that it was “a sophisticated operation”. Epstein’s operation was certainly expensive. But was it sophisticated? How sophisticated is it really when your private Caribbean property is known locally as “Paedophile Island”?