Uh-oh, the Prime Minster has "full confidence" in Prince Andrew as a UK trade envoy – the sort of endorsement that often means the direct opposite. In this
case, though, I suspect that the line is more a hasty attempt to defuse some of the tension that has been building on this matter over the past few days. Only this morning, a Downing Street source
told the Beeb that the Prince could be ejected from the role should any more revelations surface. Another suggested that "there won’t be many tears shed if he resigns."
And then there’s the senior Tory putting it about that "there appears to be no discernible mental activity," on Prince Andrew’s part. It has been – and continues to be – a
right royal rumpus, to say the least.
It’s worth noting that Prince Andrew has been here, or somewhere like it, before. When he met a member Gaddafi’s government last year – with the al-Megrahi handover still raw and screaming in
the public consciousness – an insider described the timing as "crass in the extreme". And that’s before the Wikileaks controversy last November. The question now is whether all of this negative publicity has become overwhelming for the Prince and the
government, or whether they will ride over the storm once again. Whatever happens, you can expect Downing Street to go about it much more subtly from now on.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.