In a vast house in Windsor, perilously close to the Heathrow flight path, a man sits on a couch slumped, an enormous TV on. It is a far, far cry from the one he used to know, of international parties, bevvies of beautiful young women and perennially open doors.
Life, for all of us, has changed dramatically over the last couple of years however, while the vaguest glint of normality might be on the horizon for us, things will never go back to what they once were for Prince Andrew, permanent royal exile and social pariah extraordinaire.
Overnight, lawyers for the royal sought to have a civil lawsuit dismissed in New York, which alleges that Andrew raped former teen sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre (nee Roberts). He has strenuously denied the claims.
Andrew Brettler, acting for the Duke, sought to invoke a 2009 settlement between Giuffre and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as grounds for having her case thrown out, however Judge Lewis Kaplan appeared to push back against the move. (Judge Kaplan has said he would rule on the motion "pretty soon", possibly meaning in the coming days.)
While the intense media coverage of the case has focused on Andrew's alleged meetings with Giuffre, what has largely remained just out of focus in the background is the royal's former relationships with Ghislaine Maxwell, now a convicted sex trafficker, and disgraced financier, and later convicted paedophile, Epstein, for whom Maxwell procured underage girls. (Epstein died by suicide in 2019 after being charged with sex trafficking.)
Dig a little and details start to emerge which paint an alarming picture of the world they inhabited, a world that would one day come crashing down and see both Maxwell and Epstein end up behind bars. (Andrew has never been charged with any crime nor has there ever been any indication he could be.)
While Andrew told Newsnight's Emily Maitlis during his cataclysmic 2019 interview that he first met Epstein in 1999, it would not be until 2000 that they would first be seen together in public. The location was Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's Palm Beach, Florida club at a party for a pro-am tennis tournament.
"Even when Trump announced England's Prince Andrew, many in the crowd doubted his presence," the Palm Beach Post reported at the time. "For one, he stayed in the background, introducing himself as Andrew York, and for two, he's recently shed 20 pounds (9kg), making him a possible double for actor Rupert Everett."
So what were this trio – the mysterious financier, the daughter of the disgraced tycoon and the former royal spare – like behind closed doors?
"Epstein would host drinks or dinner parties at which Andrew was feted as a guest of honour, and used to draw in a crowd of young society women, usually in their 20s," the Daily Beast has reported.
A "frequent guest" at Epstein's gargantuan New York home painted a picture for the Beast of what such a night, in this instance, around 2000, was really like: "My girlfriend and I had been invited a few times before and not gone, but when Ghislaine said Prince Andrew was coming, we thought, 'Why not?', and we accepted an invitation to dinner.
"Andrew was divorced by this time and pretending to be a global trade ambassador, and Epstein was this famously creepy, wildly rich and rather mysterious financier, so it was kind of an appealing invite."
"It was quite an intimate dinner; there were maybe 16 of us, in his house that took up a quarter of a whole block on the Upper East Side.
"Epstein and Andrew were not there to begin with, and then the doors were flung open and they made their entrance.
"They were both charmless, they looked like bored people who wanted to be entertained.
"Epstein was clearly confident in Andrew's presence, and was trading off him, basking in the reflected glory of having a Prince at his table.
"He very obviously was not sucking up to him, and showing off by calling him Andy. 'Hey Andy, did you see this….'
"He wanted to show how comfortable he was in his presence, and make clear that while he was a guest of honour, he was a regular, routine, and repeat guest.
"Epstein, Andrew, and Ghislaine were a trio, a little coterie, a party within the party, the insiders among the other guests."
Another source who was invited to a soiree has said: "I went to Jeffrey's house … There were a lot of ugly old men, with Prince Andrew in the middle of it all, perched on the club fender. We left pretty quickly."
(These dinners would also at times include a smattering of the biggest names in the US TV industry, including Katie Couric, Charlie Rose and George Stephanopoulos, along with Woody Allen and his wife. "I couldn't imagine what Epstein and Andrew were up to, apart from trying to cultivate friends in the media," Couric wrote in her recent memoir Going There.)
In January 2001, Andrew was photographed in the midst of a bevy of topless women on board Epstein's yacht in Thailand, two months before Giuffre alleges she first met the royal.
Around this time, the royal's life was changing. Divorced, he would go on to resign from the navy that same year after a two-decade career, and was facing the stark reality of his increasing royal irrelevance as his nephew Prince William entered adulthood. The picture that emerges is of a man adrift.
"As PA [Prince Andrew] got older, and lonely, I expect Ghislaine's visits from New York [to London] were welcome," one longtime royal observer recently told Vanity Fair. "She was a good organiser of visits to nightclubs etc, always lots of fun people around her. No wonder he liked it and was quick to accept visits to the USA and Epstein's island."
Paul Page was a royal protection officer from 1998 until 2004 and was convicted of fraud in 2009, however during his trial he raised some startling claims about what went on in Buckingham Palace.
In court documents, obtained by The Mirror, Page alleged, "Andrew would often have lady friends come to visit, including frequent visits by Ghislaine Maxwell," and that, in contravention of the protocol, would often not be made to sign in when entering the grounds.
"In addition, royalty officers would be told on occasion to drive these lady friends home when that was a clear dereliction of their duties.
"When on occasions officers challenged Prince Andrew and/or his guests, Prince Andrew was verbally abusive."
Page has also alleged that Maxwell would visit Buckingham Palace, where Andrew has a private apartment, multiple times-a-day.
"She turned up in a chauffeur-driven Range Rover and we let her in," he told The Mirror. "Half an hour after that me and my colleague walked through the garden to go back to the police lodge and he was having a picnic with her by the summer house, opposite the Queen's bedroom window.
"One of my colleagues saw her come in and out [of] the Palace four times in one day."
During a more recent interview with Vanity Fair, Page said that Maxwell would "just breeze into the Palace like she was one of the royal family," and, "As far as [Andrew] was concerned, she was allowed to come in and go as she pleased. We were instructed not to put her name in the visitors' book."
It was not only Maxwell who was allegedly being whisked through the Palace gates to keep Andrew entertained.
A former friend of the former socialite, now convicted sex trafficker, recounted to the Daily Beast about being invited to a very small dinner that included the Duke of York.
"My car drove in the front gates of Buckingham Palace, stopped round the back and I was escorted up to his apartment. Ghislaine was there, and it was clear immediately that I had been brought to the dinner as a sex object. Andrew sat next to me on the sofa and kept reaching over to hold my hand," the woman has recounted.
"I said as a joke, 'I'd love to go on a tour of this place' and next thing I knew, I was walking hand-in-hand with Prince Andrew through Buckingham Palace. As a joke, he took me out on the balcony and I waved to the non-existent crowd.
"We went back to the apartment and he was like, 'OK, let's all go to a club,' and I said, 'Er, look, I have to go to work in the morning' and left with my friend.
"Ghislaine procured women like me for Andrew. It was a network. She was on the party circuit and she was bringing Andrew around, meeting young women."
(It would seem that using the palace as an entertainment prop was not unusual for Andrew. In 2020, the New York Post published a picture, taken in 2002, of Maxwell and actor Kevin Spacey, who has faced a series of allegations of sexual abuse, posing on the royal thrones.)
This week, a former senior royal advisor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Daily Mail that aides outside of Andrew's private office were not aware of just how close the royal, Epstein and Maxwell were.
When, as the advisor puts it, the recurring 'Andrew problem' would crop up, the Queen's son would reportedly turn belligerent.
"Anyone who even dared to offer their professional advice that maybe his way wasn't the right one was met with a decisive, 'F**k off out of my office'," the former advisor has said.
A former palace staff member has also told the Mail that, "The Duke made clear that the only person he answered to was the Queen.
"He wouldn't take advice from anyone. [He] acted with total impunity and staff were just too scared to stand up to him as a member of the royal family. Her Majesty almost always backed him and he fully exploited that.
"There's an element of Buckingham Palace sleepwalking into his whole crisis. Andrew would tell his family that it was all untrue and it would all go away."
Another former royal staffer, per the Mail, has claimed that Andrew was allowed to "go rogue" and behaved as if he "didn't have to answer to anyone".
Andrew's taste in friends has not improved over the years. In 2006, guests gathered at Windsor Castle for Andrew's daughter Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday party. There, on the guest list, were not only Epstein and Maxwell but former Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein who is now serving a 23-year jail sentence for sexual assault.
But those days of parties, women and being feted the beau monde are long gone for Andrew.
Irrespective of Judge Kaplan's ruling on his motion to dismiss, or the outcome of the possible court case, the Duke is now the human equivalent of Chernobyl, so tainted and so toxic that rehabilitation is simply an abject impossibility.
One of the very few parts of his life that has remained constant is the presence of his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. In 2008, facing another round of money woes, the scandal prone former HRH moved into Royal Lodge and has remained there ever since.
"She's got no one else and nor has he. They are like two lost souls," one of the family's old friends recently told the Daily Mail.
In one of his most famous songs, My Way, Frank Sinatra sings "Regrets, I've had a few." In the case of Andrew, "a few" potentially doesn't even come remotely close.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.