Prince Andrew scandal: NI Royal Family fan still loyal after television interview
An Ulster royalist has said he remains loyal to the Royal Family, despite the recent eye-opening Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew over his involvement with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Billy Dickson BEM, from Sandy Row, Belfast, said the Duke of York’s friendship with the disgraced financier and allegations he slept with one of Epstein’s groomed teenagers, wouldn’t ‘diminish’’ his support for the monarchy, although he believes Prince Andrew, as an individual, “hasn’t done himself any favours”.
The 72-year-old devoted Orangeman said: “Although it won’t change my opinion and my support of the Royal Family, unfortunately there are many in the United Kingdom who will obviously use this as another weapon against the Royal Family.’’
Mr Dickson said Prince Andrew’s decision to do the interview with Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was “a huge gamble”.
“I don’t think it has helped him. At the very start I think he should have showed concern (for the victims) and then continued on with what he wanted to say, but he didn’t do that and that’s been thrown up against him at the moment.”
And he believes the 59-year-old duke should have “cut ties” with Epstein right at the start.
“I think as a member of the Royal Family you have to be ultra careful. The Queen has set the best example, she’s been the epitome of what a monarchy should be and how they should behave.
“Unfortunately with an extended family, there’s more possibility of ones straying off. I’m not saying I believe he’s guilty of anything he’s been accused of, but you do have to be extremely careful.”
Prince Andrew has been to Northern Ireland many times, most recently in September when he visited Royal Portrush, During that time a number of public engagements were reportedly called off due to his links with Epstein.
Mr Dickson, who has met members of the Royal Family, but not Prince Andrew, added: “I think up until what happened, what he has been accused of and his associations, Prince Andrew has been extremely well liked, especially in Northern Ireland. He is very well thought of here.
“On the Donegall Road, there’s Prince Andrew Park and Prince Andrew Gardens and the people of the Donegall Road thought very highly of him. Then of course, he was involved with the military, so people have always held him in the highest regard and probably still do. This whole situation is just unfortunate.
“Because of what has happened now, some people are now having doubts. At the end of the day, even if a person is not guilty, that always hangs about you.”