Prince Andrew is toast. I don't know the proper Latin phrase for the constitutional hole he's dug for himself but it's wide, deep and a stinker.
He is damned irrespective of the veracity of the allegations against him. The story's delicious timing, juicy headline and his shocking judgment all operate in concert to condemn him, at best, as an irresponsible fool.
The story broke over the New Year, a traditional dead time for news. There is nothing to beat copy that headlines "sex slave", "underage" and "Prince". It was guaranteed to run, and run big.
Only a skeleton crew of Buckingham Palace spin doctors were on duty. The Duke was holidaying with his family.
The story began slowly, with mention of the Prince in court documents in a hitherto unheard of legal action in the United States, but quickly deepened to embroil and ensnare him. The initial Palace response has proven shallow and flimsy. The advice now is not to add to the story but, too late: it's up and running under its own steam.
It's a hard hit. The allegations are deadly serious and the accompanying facts alone slice and dice him.
The Prince stayed friends with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein even after Epstein had served jail time for soliciting underage girls for prostitution. Loyalty is admirable but mateship is not unconditional.
I, for one, could not stay friends with a man guilty of such a crime. The son of the Queen certainly shouldn't. His continued friendship serves to minimise Epstein's offending and disregard his victims.
We are left concerned about when the Prince first became aware of the offending. Epstein's reported lifestyle and living arrangements would have an everyday person worried about what he was up to.
It's hard to believe the Prince was blissfully unaware or unquestioning of his friend and host.
Besides, the Palace and the British Government have an army of people whose job it is to warn the royals off such associations. It would seem Prince Andrew was deaf and blind to the warning signs and the undoubted entreaties of those with the mission to ensure he's not embarrassed in such a fashion.
Also, Prince Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah, accepted a gift of £15,000 ($28,000) from Epstein. That, too, was after his conviction. Sarah and the Prince have stayed close. We are left to wonder whether he knew of the gift. If so, he's hopelessly compromised.
Then there's the photograph: the then 40-year-old Prince, his arm awkwardly and suggestively cradling the bare midriff of a 17-year-old. It's a terrible image of any middle-aged man, let alone a royal. We are told the photo was taken late at night.
The monarchy in its heyday could have shut down such a story. There was the Tower and the executioner's axe. It's now but a relic of what it once was.
Nonetheless, I remain a monarchist. The royals are cheap for us to run, provide marvellous copy and prove less galling than a homegrown tino rangatiratanga.