Broadcasters have schedules to fill, as we all know, but what was the point of Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile? If you have followed the Ghislaine Maxwell case with interest, then there was nothing new to see here. And if you haven’t, well, why would you start now?
Actually, it’s not quite right to say there was nothing at all new. There were two little nuggets about the Prince which proved to be the programme’s only highlights, but they threw absolutely no light on his relationship with Maxwell, who has been convicted of trafficking young women for Jeffrey Epstein (the Prince denies any wrongdoing). Instead, they simply served to illustrate that the Queen’s second son is a spoiled man-baby.
First, the recollections of a former Palace protection officer, who claimed that the Prince had 50-60 stuffed toys on his bed, their precise arrangement logged for reference in a laminated photograph. If staff made the bed and didn’t put the bunny-wunnies back in exactly the right place, the Prince “would shout and scream and become very abusive”.
And then there was the phone number. In Maxwell’s “little black book”, there can be found an entry for Prince Andrew alongside the numbers of his various phones and residences. The programme’s presenter, Ranvir Singh, called one of them, and was stunned to get through to the royal voicemail. Yes, two years after the book’s existence became public knowledge, the Prince has not thought to change his number. Einstein he is not.
These two details were mildly interesting, but what do they have to do with a supposedly serious documentary about trafficking and sexual abuse? They smacked of a project that had failed to find a decent exclusive and was padding out the hour. What else could explain the presence of Lady Victoria Hervey, a Nineties socialite who has given several interviews about her friendship with Maxwell and whose contribution here extended to defending the Prince’s desire for female company after his divorce: “At the end of the day, he’s only a man, and he’s male, right? I don’t think anyone can expect him to just be a monk in a monastery.”
Presenter Ranvir Singh couldn’t do much with the well-worn material. When she got through to the Prince’s voicemail, she was so shocked that she left a floundering message (“Hello, er, I think this might be Prince Andrew…”). At one point she took a cab to Kinnerton Street in Belgravia, and the mews house where that infamous picture was taken of the Prince with alleged victim Virginia Giuffre – only to look up at the window then walk off again. It seemed a waste of the taxi fare.
An emotional Ian Maxwell, ever loyal, showed up to defend his sister. We heard from some of the victims caught up in the case. But the abiding image was of a prince stamping his foot over some cuddly toys, and this story deserves more serious treatment.