By Morak Babajide-Alabi
You imagine your associations. Those people you closely connect with… the conversations you have… all profoundly influence your thinking and actions. You slowly become the sum of the people closest to you. Choose them wisely…” by Adeila Akoo.
There is no better advice for Prince Andrew than this offered in the quote above. With the most recent developments about him, his association and relationships, he sure needs a lesson or two on how to conduct himself, especially as he is in the public eyes. Regrettably, situations have to turn the other way for this Prince to realise that whoever plays with fire risks the possibility of getting burnt.
Prince Andrew is the second son of Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom. By the position of the mother and family, he is a man expected to be of outstanding quality, impeccable character and a reflection of the British monarchy. But to say, Prince Andrew or his brother, Prince Charles or the new generation princes have lived above board would be to place them on the pedestal they wish they are but do not belong to.
Prince Andrew’s recent travails should convince anyone in doubt that we should always be cautious about valuing individuals just because of their position in the societal strata. His seemingly fall from grace to grass, occasioned by his association with a convicted sex offender is a summation that, place or circumstances of birth is not insurance for a disciplined or moral life. His travails also demonstrate the fact that these individuals sometimes celebrated in the public are susceptible to making mistakes. They tend not to think straight and can be undoubtedly led by their noses than “ordinary” individuals.
I usually nod in agreement when people echo the popular saying that “this life is funny.” It is indeed comical and can drift whichever way it likes. For the Prince, the week gone by must be one of the most difficult for him. It was supposed to be a week when his reputation could have “shined bright.” It was arranged to be a redeeming week to ride the headlines positively and smile in the faces of his critics. To him and his public-relations advisers, it would have been a week when the rogue Prince once again becomes the darling of the British people. And maybe, a few people around the world as well.
It didn’t work out for the Prince. On second thought it was a week he wished had never come. It was a week he lost the remaining goodwill he had with the public. The week determined his fate and delivered a resounding condemnation of him, his actions and by extension the monarchy. It was a week Prince Andrew sacrificed all in defence of his convicted American sex offender friend. Having achieved this, the Prince lost many of his financial backers.
One by one, sponsors, charity organisations and bodies that had usually lined up to curry his favour in the past were falling on each other to announce their parting of ways with him. The students of the University of Huddersfield prompted his call to step back from “their activities.” They said his action had portrayed him as a man unfit to neither be a Chancellor nor deserve a place in the academic community.
Prince Andrew had needed no push before he jumped. He knew he possessed no moral authority to take on public responsibilities. It was a harsh turn of events for the Duke of York. The media attention on him intensified earlier this year when his buddy Jeffery Epstein was detained on the charges of sex trafficking. Interestingly, the sex offender’s name and Prince Andrew’s are now mentioned in the same breath. A few of Epstein’s victims had openly accused the Prince of being a part of Epstein’s “sex ring.”
For Andrew, it is a case of “show me your friend and I will tell you the type of person you are.” Let us advance the way of the well-worn cliche – birds of the same feather flock together. Growing up as a kid in Nigeria where morals and family values are at lofty “levels” compared to what is obtained elsewhere, I remember my Dad’s (of blessed memory) greatest advice – a respectable human being do not choose the night time to play on the streets. It took me a while to comprehend this. But the logic is that if you wear a white garment you do not take a stroll on a filthy street. This is best illustrated by the legendary Afrobeat star, Fela Anikulapo‘s song “Rofo Rofo Fight.” If you have not heard it before, please search and listen to the track.
The circumstances of Prince Andrew’s association with Epstein describe his character. The Bible says, ”can two people walk together except they agreed.” Like minds attract each other. It was the desperation to draw the line between the two that informed the BBC interview. But it was a regrettable mistake. The interview backfired and went against all expectations. Prince Andrew had underestimated the enormity of the aversion of the public to his association with Epstein.
The interview did not do him any good. Rather he appeared like an irresponsible, self-centred individual who is eternally faithful to Epstein. He had said he did not regret his friendship with the sex offender and did not offer any form of sympathy for the victims. Epstein reportedly took his own life earlier on August 10. For Andrew, the opportunity of an “explanation” and possibly a “clearance” by Epstein, was no longer available. To be fair, he could not be certain what side his convicted sex offender friend would have swung if he was still alive.
As things are at present, Andrew would wish he could draw back the hand of the clock. He became the first Prince to “abdicate” his duties as the Queen permitted him to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.” It was a hard lesson of life for the Prince as he realised, rather late, that it is sometimes better to keep one’s mouth shut than think talking through a difficult situation is a better choice.
Most times, as human beings in high places, especially with a man’s as Prince Andrew, who has had everything easy, his thought might be that with a flip of his fingers he could persuade the public to agree with him on anything. He probably has been getting away with many things in the past as a result of his blood. However, karma, it is remarked, remain a bitch. It waits at the end of the corner and when an individual thinks he/she is on the straight run home, it shows its face.
Jessica Brody’s quotation on karma is apt for Prince Andrew at this time. She wrote: “Karma comes after everyone eventually. You can’t get away with screwing people over your whole life. I don’t care who you are. What goes around comes around. That’s how it works. Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve.”
The only pleasing thing to take away from all these is he has given his words that he “is willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.” This should be a massive relief to Epstein’s victims while they hope the Prince is, in the process, brought to justice for his part in the whole “show.” Time will tell.