Who do you believe – Prince Andrew or Virginia Roberts? In the midst of a general election in Britain, as many people were discussing this as the state of the political parties.
Virginia Roberts – now using her married name of Guiffre – appeared on a special BBC Panorama programme on Monday night, which made some very serious allegations about Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son.
He was a friend of the convicted paedophile, the late Jeffrey Epstein, and Virginia claims that she was trafficked by Epstein, and forced into a sexual encounter with Andrew when she was 17.
There is a famous photo of the Prince with his arm around the young Virginia, in the London house owned by his long-time pal Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly persuaded Virginia to submit to the Prince. Andrew, though admitting to being Epstein’s associate, denies that he ever had sexual relations with Virginia, and doesn’t recall meeting her.
Who to believe? There are, apparently, factual errors in both accounts. Ms Roberts-Guiffre mixes up some places and dates. Andrew’s claim that he didn’t know the lady is belied by the photograph, which forensic experts say is authentic.
There is a lot more to unravel in this unedifying story, and we would need to see all the evidence before deciding whose version is true.
Not a word, from the medical authorities, about the fact that 15 is under the age of sexual consent”
It sometimes happens, in any ‘he-said, she said’ dispute, that there is some factual truth on both sides, because episodes are remembered, forgotten, or experienced differently.
The wider truth that is so blatantly overlooked is that young girls, often under the age of consent, have been allowed – even encouraged – by a sexualised culture to participate in full sexual activities when parents, guardians and society should be protecting them.
In Britain, where the alleged encounter took place, the age of consent is 16. In the US, it is 18. In Ireland it is 17. These laws have been flagrantly flouted for at least 25 years.
Agencies like the Family Planning Association fought hard to administer the contraceptive Pill to girls as young as 13, thus facilitating under-age sexual activity.
Just last month, in Ireland, there was a report in the Irish Independent about the alarming increase in sexually transmitted disease among teenagers as young as 15.
The teenagers were urged to seek medical check-ups. Not a word, from the medical authorities, about the fact that 15 is under the age of sexual consent: these youngsters should be warned that they should not be sexually active at all.
As for Andrew versus Virginia: my own reaction is to feel sorry for both. She was evidently abused as a vulnerable teenager. But Andrew is suffering a Biblical punishment from which we would all shrink, his sins being shouted from the rooftops.
A movie well worth watching…
I enjoyed Fernando Meirelles film of The Two Popes, although, like most modern movies it’s too long, at 126 minutes. But it’s a riveting glimpse inside the Vatican – and a re-visiting of events since the death of John Paul II.
Latinists will be pleased to hear conversations held in Latin (at Benedict’s behest – subtly played by Sir Anthony Hopkins). And there’s a jolly scene where the German pope and the Argentine pontiff (Jonathan Pryce, the spitting image of Francis) together watch a world cup football match – Germany versus Argentina.
And yet, there is an understated, poignant contrast between the young athletes on the field in superb sporting form, and the two old men who have known the burdens of responsibility in life’s journey.
A scary story which also shows the safety of home
One of the children’s books – and subsequently theatrical performances – that my grandchildren loved when they were little was Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
And now Channel 4 plans to produce a star-studded animated production of this charming fable over Christmas, with the voices of David Walliams, Tamsin Greig and David Olyelowo.
I am sure it will appeal to young children everywhere.
Although sometimes I’m surprised that it’s permitted to be produced at all, in these ‘woke’ times.
The storyline, based on a droll fantasy about a tiger visiting a little girl’s home, is distinctly conservative: Sophie is seen happily with her stay-at-home mother, as they bake and organise the kitchen together, in very traditional female roles. Dad goes off to work in his office suit in the morning, and returns home in the evening.
The element of the tiger adds a frisson of pretend scariness, but kids know the big cat is only make-believe, while mum and dad are altogether real, and represent the safety of the home nest.