Grace Dent: Andy dangles from a rope and we all yawn. It's time to downgrade this expensive blowhard

He's not vaguely a celebrity and his social circle is more of a risk to our reputation than butt-naked Prince Harry


As Prince Andrew "Airmiles Andy", fourth in line to the throne, dangled precariously this week on abseiling ropes from a 1,000ft drop at the top of the Shard, Britain was wholly underwhelmed. We didn't really care. Crowds of commoners did not amass on the South Bank with supportive banners, posies of flowers and hot sweet drinks to soothe his post-descent shock. Traffic-calming tactics were not necessary. No comedy video of "dangling Andy" lit up the worldwide web, like when Boris was momentarily caught on a zip-wire causing several newsrooms to down tools helpless in mirth. No #andyonarope hashtag topic trended on Twitter. There was no emoticon available to express how little we could be arsed. Andy came, Andy rappelled, Andy went home again to carry on whatever it is he bloody does. He's 53 next February and still neither he nor we are sure.

Perhaps this was the moment for us to take stock of the usefulness of Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York. Andrew's not much of a Royal, he's not vaguely a celebrity. Interest in him among the public is negligible. Locate me one solitary soul coming through Heathrow Airport who knows his name and demands to see him, and I'll placate them with Lord Frederick Windsor or the Duchess of Cambridge's naughty Uncle Gary, if he's not at Casa de Bang Bang.

Prince Andrew is expensive to keep and his social circle is more of a risk to our reputation than butt-naked Prince Harry being a slight silly by a billiard table. In fact, let's politely look the other way about the matter of Andy's chum Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's chum Virginia Roberts and a number of other young women, and the FBI's attitude to Epstein's friendships with these women. Everyone else has now.

Let's just think about the Shard and Andy's pointless plunge and consider that perhaps it's time Prince Andrew – just like the Royal Yacht – was decommisioned. A little light royal culling. Goodbye, Andrew, thanks for all your fantastic trade links. Here's a small flat for you in Dudley. Enjoy. I'm sure the town council won't be troubled by adoring crowds.

In this time of austerity and "aren't we're all in this together", well the monarchy downgrading him to commoner would be a gesture of goodwill. I'm not calling for Prince Andrew's head, crikey, no, I'm not a savage, but I'd be happy to see him using his supposed first-class business skills to just live as plain old Andrew. That said, I've always felt Andrew, who is very good at business, has the air of one of those men who enter the quiet carriage of a train, spread all the paperwork of their regional photocopier supplies sales figures on the table before you, pull out their mobile phone and boom "Hello, Sheila! Yes, just on the 9.30 into the office, and just thought I'd use the journey to touch base on a few figures. Yes. Grab a pen!" And you really want to say, "Look, mate, we ALL have jobs. Your job isn't more important than anyone else's. We could all make this carriage into an office, we're just choosing not to."

Because some people are brilliant workers, exemplary at forging links and pushing things ahead. And some blowhards – like Prince Andrew for the past two decades – spend years being professionally "professional". Much of what Andrew's achieved in this time doesn't bear close scrutiny – his meddlings with oligarchs in North Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union have had the Government clutching their heads in woe. I'm not a staunch Republicanist. I've a soft spot for Prince William and thought his mother was dippy, much-put-upon and charming. I like the Queen's attitude to corgis and non-necessary hugs, I like Prince Philip's attitude to ducking out of tedious family get-togethers. I like Zara, the one with the tongue-piercing and the wild sense of derring-do who married the rugby player and wins silver medals. As we stand, right now, these royals serve some worth. For Prince Andrew, however, the only entity one can place beside the Shard and make the building seem comparatively useful, in keeping with the national mood of "streamlining" the royal firm for "full taxpayers efficiency", it might be time to go.

I'd rather have cat bugs than be no-cat crazy

Yesterday's Independent front page linking cat ownership with mental illness infuriated me so much I was tempted to resign on a point of principle. Thankfully, the enormous vet bill pinned to the fridge covering the last time one of my furry-faced sociopathic numbskulls ate a bumble bee prevented rash financial decisions.

I love cats. I'm a fan. I like cats more than a lot of people. I love their slinky, self-serving, heat-seeking, couldn't-give-a-damness. I'd take an hour watching my cat shouting pointlessly at squirrels without any intention to chase them, over an hour of listening to your planning permission problems any day. There are no cat training schools and no train-your-cat TV shows for a good reason: cats don't live by your rules. If cats knew they might be carrying a bug that kills you, well, sure, they'd be a bit sad.

But, on another level, they'd find it bloody funny. If your cat was suddenly 100kg bigger within 24 hours, it would've got a bit over-excited, forgotten it's manners, dragged you behind the telly and killed you anyway. I've written 13 books and a thousand newspaper columns with something trying to warm it's face on the laptop, accidentally cutting copy and decreasing the brightness on the screen with it's whiskers.

And all those great free gifts? The dead stuff, the unidentified headless rodents, the disembodied tails and entrails. Well, it keeps me alert. And I didn't like that armchair anyway; it looks much better distressed with a pot plant emptied on it.

But if there's a tiny risk they might make me insane with bugs – the same bugs are found on salad – then I'll take it. I've lived without pets and it's miserable. I'm a damn sight crazier without them.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing