The destiny of the “spare”

The trouble with Prince Andrew, now embroiled in sex abuse allegations, is the same trouble that has afflicted junior male members of the royal family for generations. They have no function except as a backstop lest those further up the line of succession fall under horse-drawn carriages. Nowadays, they are expected to “earn a living” or “make a contribution”. But nothing in their experience equips them to cope with anything resembling an ordinary job, even an unpaid one. They are not usually very bright – royalty is not selected for brains and, even if princes have any, they receive none of the challenge or stimulation that would develop intelligence – and they are therefore sitting ducks for dubious characters such as Jeffrey Epstein, the American billionaire who allegedly supplied Andrew with “sex slaves”. The last and greatest service the Queen could make to her country is to announce, on her deathbed, that she should be the last of her line. She would thus spare her direct descendants from weird half-lives – and force the rest of us to grow up.

— Peter Wilby in The New Statesman (8-15 Jan 2015)