I must confess to an obsession.
There are two people who seem to get me in a state of frenzy whenever I see their name in print, which is rather more often than I can stomach. The first is Tony Blair who makes me cringe every time I read about him in his vulgar pursuit of wealth. His shameless hypocrisy about his political views, pretentious and unyielding in essence but worse still concealing a disdain for everything I believe in, makes me feel totally distraught.
The next on my list is Air-Miles Andy, who seems to have perfected the art of milking the system, without the elegance or the charm a royal in his position is normally imbued with. He strikes me as boorish, with a foul temper, and a vocabulary of the F-word which he regularly uses when provoked or not accorded his inflated views of how a royal should be treated.
The latest criticism he is facing is the result of his taking time off from an official tour part-funded by the public purse to visit Princess Eugenie in New York, taking her out to dinner as she starts a new job at an auction house.
He is in the city on the latest leg of a round-the-world tour that was not publicised in advance. Details have only emerged in Daily Court Circular notices issued by Buckingham Palace after the event.
The Duke had visited Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan before arriving in New York last Wednesday.
The first leg of his trip was funded entirely by the taxpayer. Since he left Indonesia, his expenses and those of his personal staff have been paid partly by the Duke and partly by the Royal United Services Institute, which he has been representing, while the cost of his Scotland Yard bodyguards is taxpayer-funded at all times.
The golf-loving Duke has fitted plenty of spare time into his schedule. Between 18th and 29th September he carried out engagements on four days in Vietnam and Indonesia and had eight days of ‘private time’. Buckingham Palace refused to say what he was doing on his days off.
The Labour MP Paul Flynn said: ‘It seems extraordinary that Prince Andrew is still allowed to plunder the public coffers. If he is on a trip visiting his family, obviously he should pay the full cost of that himself, including security.’
Matthew Sinclair, the chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers will wonder why they are paying for the Prince’s gallivanting across the globe, given that he’s no longer a UK trade envoy. Even if part of the journey is privately funded, the timing of it is sure to raise eyebrows. With all the necessary protection costs paid for by the taxpayers it’s time Prince Andrew reduced the bill for his travelling.’
In his latest tour, he will have travelled 21,625 miles in less than three weeks when he returns.
It is preposterous that neither the government nor those who sanction such trips are unaware of the harm that extravagance of this nature will do to the image of the royals in general. Prince Andrew’s popularity is at its lowest ebb and, unless something is done about it soon, he will suffer the indignation of the nation with its subsequent reflux.
Having said all that, and having poured out my invectives, the wiser course for me to adopt now is simply to pipe down and forget about Blair and Prince Andrew.
But on reflection, who in his right mind will attribute such wisdom to me since I can be as incorrigible as the worst among us.