Britain's Prince Andrew’s Saturday night interview with the BBC’s Newsnight may not have been the reputation saver he expected, but it gave people on social media plenty to talk about.
BBC presenter Jeremy Vine spoke for many when he asked if anyone else was “struggling with the Woking angle?”
Andrew said he could not have been at a London nightclub on March 10, 2001, as he had been at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, Surrey that evening and went home afterwards.
Virginia Guiffre has claimed the prince had sex with her after they were introduced in Tramp nightclub that night. Ms Guiffre, then called Jennifer Roberts, was 17 at the time.
TV presenter Giles Coren, though, was not convinced by the pizza story. “Ask him what he ordered. If he says ‘a sloppy Giuseppe’ you’ve got him. Because they didn’t introduce that till 2006.”
Ask him what he ordered!!!! If he says “a sloppy Giuseppe” you’ve got him. Because they didn’t introduce that till 2006.— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) November 16, 2019
Comedy writer Simon Blackwell, on the other hand, seemed convinced, saying – perhaps with his tongue in his cheek – that the prince had “drawn a line under the whole thing”. Given that Blackwell is best known for his work on The Thick Of It, he should know what spin lines do or don’t work.
Well that seems to have drawn a line under the whole thing #PrinceAndrew— Simon Blackwell (@simonblackwell) November 16, 2019
Comedian David Baddiel used some expressive language in his response to Andrew’s interview, but also questioned his grammar when saying: “That is what I would describe as me in that photo.”
Catherine Mayer, founder of the Women’s Equality Party, questioned the Prince’s intelligence, saying he was “too stupid to even pretend concern for Epstein’s victims”.
I’ve heard Prince Andrew say things of phenomenal stupidity before. He assured students in Beijing that America had no impact on UK culture. He told me he was an “investigative journalist”. But with @maitlis he excelled, too stupid to even pretend concern for #Epstein’s victims— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) November 16, 2019
Even some of those broadly in favour of the royal family, such as Royal Central website editor Charlie Proctor, were not impressed.
“I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad,” Mr Proctor tweeted.
I expected a train wreck.November 16, 2019
Comedian Dom Joly also tweeted with a crashing theme, describing the interview as “a worse car crash than getting a lift home from Prince Philip”.
This is a worse car crash than getting a lift home from Prince Philip. #PrinceAndrew— Dom Joly (@domjoly) November 16, 2019
Former diplomat Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, was slightly less than diplomatic in his response to the royal’s interview, saying he suspected the only grain of truth it contained was the comment that Andrew never pays for drinks.
But Andrew was not without his defenders. Former wife Sarah Ferguson said before the show went to air: “It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs.
“Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness.”
It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty+pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs. Andrew is a true+real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness + goodness @TheDukeOfYork pic.twitter.com/qg40lU4Qkf— Sarah Ferguson (@SarahTheDuchess) November 15, 2019
Tweet of the night, though, might go to the Pizza Express account, about the chain suddenly going viral and being bombarded by messages to “check Twitter now”.
9:00 pm - Switch off computer 🍷
10:00 pm - 120 messages on work WhatsApp group telling you to "check Twitter now" 😳 pic.twitter.com/ErVOEXtNVi— PizzaExpress 🍕 (@PizzaExpress) November 16, 2019
Andrew’s revelation of having eaten at the pizza restaurant on a fateful night 18 years ago led to a spate of new online reviews for the eatery.
One reviewer wrote: “Love this place. I had a cracking pizza here in 2001. I remember it was 2001 because it was very strange the guy next to me had an American Hot pizza with extra chillies… not a drop of sweat came off him. Very odd.”
The sweating reference was a nod to Prince Andrew saying in his BBC interview that a claim he was perspiring heavily at a London nightclub was wrong as he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.