On Monday, a onetime aide to former prime minister David Cameron, Rohan Silva, who is now an Evening Standard columnist, wrote a piece claiming the widely watched and highly criticized royal interview that aired Saturday caused him to reflect on his own past interactions with the 59-year-old prince.
Silva claims that Andrew’s use of language during his meetings with the prince left him “reeling” and says he regrets not challenging him over his “choice of words.”
Silva, who is of Sri Lankan descent, describes being invited to Buckingham Palace to meet with Andrew to discuss, among other things, the tech economy and entrepreneurship. “As a brown boy from Yorkshire, I’ve got to admit I felt fairly out of place as I was led through the gilded corridors to meet a member of the royal family for the first time,” he wrote in the column. During a discussion about the European Union, Silva writes that Andrew confused him by using a phrase he had not heard before: “Prince Andrew leaned across to interrupt me. ‘What you have got to remember,’ he said, ‘is that you’ll never get anywhere by playing the white man,' ” Silva recalled.
Silva writes that he wasn’t familiar with the phrase, so he later looked it up online. “The definition flashed up on my screen: an old-fashioned saying, used during colonial times, meaning that only white people can be trusted to follow the rules, unlike dark-skinned natives,” Silva recalled in his column.
Silva also alleges that during another meeting roughly a year later, he asked the prince whether the trade department could be performing better, to which Andrew replied: “Well, if you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the n***** in the woodpile.”
Silva says he failed to call out the prince’s behavior due to the “gulf in status” between the two of them. “I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t do anything about it — I felt overawed and extremely conscious,” he wrote Monday.
Silva’s column has plunged the prince into a fresh controversy in Britain, where many are still open-mouthed and digesting the remarks made during the weekend interview that royal commentators have described as “excruciating.”
During the 60-minute sit-down with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, Andrew attempted to explain the time he spent at Epstein’s mansion while saying that the financier, who was found dead in a jail cell earlier this year, had “conducted himself in a manner unbecoming,” before Maitlis replied: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.”
As he stumbled through the interview, Andrew said he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, who has accused him of having sexual encounters with her when she was 17 — reportedly after she was told to by Epstein.
In his Monday column accusing Andrew of using racist slurs, Silva argues that it’s important to speak publicly about all manner of unacceptable behavior against those in positions of power or privilege.
“If we don’t call these things out and dare to speak truth to power,” he wrote, “nothing will ever change.”