As Randy Andy is forced out, RICHARD LITTLEJOHN imagines how a less deferential press would have treated the indiscretions of his 'Playboy Prince' predecessor Dirty Bertie
As Prince Andrew is forced out of public life over his relationship with the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, it's worth reflecting on how some of his predecessors might have fared under the glare of the modern media spotlight.
Take, for instance, Queen Victoria's son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the Playboy Prince, who went on to become Edward VII.
Known to the Royal Family as 'Bertie', he had a voracious sexual appetite, earning him the nicknames 'Dirty Bertie' and 'Edward the Caresser'.
Prince Andrew has been forced out of public life over his relationship with the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein
Queen Victoria's son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was the Playboy Prince who went on to become Edward VII
There are plenty of parallels with the plight of Prince Andrew, although alongside Dirty Bertie, Randy Andy comes across as a rank amateur.
The difference is that Prince Edward's promiscuity and serial indiscretions, while fairly common knowledge, went largely unreported in an age of deference.
If newspapers of the day had been free to report the truth, late Victorians could have been reading stories like this:
The Pall Mall Gazette.
Dateline London, November 22nd, 1899.
From our Royal Correspondent . . .
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is under intense pressure to resign from all his official duties following sensational revelations about his debauched behaviour.
His whoring, gambling and unsuitable friendships have all been laid bare in an exclusive interview he granted to the Pall Mall Gazette, an ill-fated attempt to salvage his reputation.
As a number of leading charities sought to distance themselves from the Prince, Her Majesty Queen Victoria summoned him to Buckingham Palace for crisis talks.
It is expected he will have to renounce his right of succession and go into exile, although probably not to France. French investigators are seeking his extradition for questioning in connection with allegations he has been indulging in sex with minors.
Prince Edward's promiscuity and serial indiscretions, while fairly common knowledge, went largely unreported in an age of deference (pictured with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu)
The Prince commissioned French furniture manufacturer Soubrier to build him a special chair which would allow him to make love to two women at once without running the risk of him crushing them
Some of his most sordid sexual encounters have taken place at a so-called 'high class' Paris brothel called Le Chabanais.
The Prince has his own private room with a huge bath filled with champagne. Eye-witnesses report that he bathes for hours with several young prostitutes.
Agents from the French Bureau of Investigations (FBI) now want to interview His Royal Highness over allegations that many of these women had been trafficked and were under the age of consent.
The revelations came to light after one woman contacted the #MoiAussi movement, which exposes sexual predators in high places.
According to FBI files, as he got older and piled on the pounds, the Prince commissioned French furniture manufacturer Soubrier to build him a special chair which would allow him to make love to two women at once without running the risk of him crushing them. Last night, investigators were still puzzling over how this contraption worked.
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A trip the Prince took to the United States in 1860 is also coming under the microscope. Did he stay at the Manhattan mansion of one of his financier friends, or visit the notorious Florida vice den known as Mar-a-Lago?
Back in England, the Prince is reputed to have had at least 50 lovers, including the celebrated actress Lily Langtry; Lady Randolph Churchill, whose son Winston will lead Britain to victory in World War II; and Alice Keppel, whose great-granddaughter Camilla Parker Bowles will one day become the mistress of a future Prince of Wales.
The Prince doesn't only have a huge sexual appetite, he's an incorrigible glutton. According to royal sources, he insists on five ten-course meals a day, washed down with fine wines, port and champagne. He smokes 20 cigarettes daily and numerous cigars.
He has ballooned to a 48in waist, leading to him being condemned by anti-obesity campaigners, as well as anti-tobacco groups.
He was attacked by climate change protesters after taking delivery of one of the new-fangled horseless carriages, which stand accused of contaminating atmosphere and blackening the sky.
His Royal Highness first drove a four-cylinder Daimler in 1896, provoking activists from Extinction Rebellion to glue themselves to The Mall, bringing central London to a standstill and causing a three-mile tailback of hansom cabs and omnibuses.
Last night, Daimler was one of the first companies to consider returning its Royal Warrant, as businesses and charities moved to distance themselves from him.
The Prince is patron of a raft of charities, including the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital for Women, the Soho Square Hospital for Women, the Royal Hospital for Children and Women at Waterloo, and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.
King Edward VII shooting at Sandringham in the 1900s. A pastime enjoyed by members of the current royal household
All of these organisations are now severing their links with him, saying that any continued association would be 'inappropriate'.
If they don't act now, there are genuine fears that at some time in the future a sexually predatory celebrity could gain access to vulnerable women and children in hospitals under the guise of working for 'charity' — even though Jimmy Savile is not alive yet.
Royal-watchers were amazed when the Prince agreed to be interviewed by the Pall Mall Gazette in an attempt to rescue his reputation. Did he recall throwing sex parties at Sandringham for his mistresses, including a notorious Italian madam said to procure prostitutes for him?
'No,' he said, to our correspondent's astonishment. 'It was a shooting weekend, just a straightforward shooting weekend.'
Did he regret paying numerous visits to the Parisian brothel, Le Chabanais?
'It was a convenient place to stay. At the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do.'
Did he not think it was odd, all those half-naked young women everywhere?
'It was almost like a railway station in the sense that there were people coming in and out of that house all the time. You have to remember that as a member of the Royal Family, I'm used to staff walking around.'
Is there any way he could have had sex with a young woman trafficked to the brothel?
'No, and without putting too fine a point on it, if you're a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody . . . and I do not remember anything.'
By now sweating profusely in a three-piece Harris Tweed shooting outfit, the Prince was asked about a photograph of him with his arm round a young woman who says she was forced to have sex with him.
He claimed it couldn't possibly be him because he was in a Pizza Express in Woking that night, even though Pizza Express will not be invented for another 65 years . . .