No one forced him to go.
The photo and video make clear that there was no one holding a gun to his head, no one forcing him to be there.
And I'm almost as certain that no one – certainly no one on the royal staff – thought that it was a nice invite, an opportunity for a man whose brother will be king to socialize with a rich pimp and his teenage offerings.
Prince Andrew was the fool who decided to go – and by the looks of it, enjoyed himself immensely. See the prince smile and laugh and put his arm around a teenager.
He might have survived even that, with a little help from the queen and a token punishment. He might have disappeared, waited until the wind blew over and issued a statement conveying deep remorse for the girls who Epstein abused. That's what a smart person would do. It's what his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and his two daughters reportedly suggested.
But Andrew is not a smart person; he is an arrogant one. He decided to go on television to defend himself when he had absolutely no defense. He did not go on television to express remorse, which is always the first step toward redemption. You need to admit you did something wrong, apologize, take full responsibility and express remorse for those who may have been hurt. Andrew did just the opposite.
NO remorse, except for his own family, for the embarrassment to them.
No remorse for the young women and girls who Epstein admittedly (he did plead guilty in Florida, remember) misused and abused. No apologies.
The only thing he was sorry about was the damage it did to the image of the royal family.
His brother has apparently taken him to the woodshed. His mother evicted him from Buckingham Palace and removed him from royal duties.
But what reportedly concerned him most was the impact on his own little princesses. He was described as a "devoted father" who was especially worried about how banishment might affect Princess Beatrice's planned Meaghan Markle-like wedding.
It never ceases to amaze me how "devoted fathers" like Andrew can so blithely and thoughtlessly abuse other people's daughters. They aren't worried about the lifelong harm these girls suffer but the impact on their own overprivileged offspring. Poor Beatrice; she might not be able to have a 2,000-person megawedding. Ask Daddy why.
Andrew expects his daughters to be treated like royalty while these poor American commoners whom Epstein got his hands on are treated like toilet paper.
Certainly, we should not punish the children for the sins of their father. But when the only thing that makes them royal is the royal sperm and that royal sperm is no longer royal, then what in the world makes them princesses? Why in the world should they be accorded the respect that derives solely from being the daughters of a banished bad man?
I wouldn't care if the royal family were only royals in the UK. But the royals are the princes of People Magazine. They shape our popular culture as much as their own.
The royalty of the family may be fed by publicity, but as Meaghan's misery makes clear, even royals are entitled to a zone of privacy. That said, there is a difference between respecting privacy and ignoring sexual misconduct. Andrew has no right to privacy with respect to his relationship with the American sex offender.
I'm sure Andrew has been told many times by his minders that if he wants to be a prince, he should behave like one. It's easy to say he didn't and leave it at that. But it's not really true.
The sad part is that, in some many ways, he acted just like a prince. He was above the law, beyond reproach, free to cross lines that should matter. That people got hurt on the way is of no concern – like a veritable king, or an American president. Whether the president will also be banished remains to be seen.
Susan Estrich is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.