IN the wise words of Margaret Thatchers husband, Denis: Id rather keep my mouth shut and look a fool than open it and remove all doubt.
Prince Andrew opened his mouth to the BBCs Emily Maitlis on Saturday night and for billions of viewers removed all doubt about his relations with under-age sex-slave Virginia Roberts.
He has no memory of the 17-year-old or putting his hand around her bare waist. He denies sex with her three times at the New York home of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein where he was a frequent visitor, and elsewhere. He does not sweat. He was at Pizza Express at the time.
The excruciating BBC2 interview, replayed around the world, was a masterclass in reputational suicide, an insult to the intelligence of the British people and a snub to victims of the vile child sex trade.
And judging by the social media storm which followed, few believe his protestations of innocence.
The whole shifty exercise was rehearsed and artificial, shot through with evasion, alleged memory lapses and unlikely excuses.
What was intended to draw a line under a decade-long saga of seedy claims and dodgy denials has destroyed the Duke of Yorks public image and inflicted long-term damage on the Royal Family.
In her twilight years, the 93-year-old Queen, who still stands by her son, must fear for the future of the House of Windsor at a rocky moment in its long and chequered history.
The ill-advised broadcast comes as Prince Charles tours the world trying to shore up his own rather dotty reputation as heir to the throne.
And it coincides with an embarrassing public spat between Prince William, the next in line, and his increasingly erratic younger brother, Prince Harry and American actress wife Meghan.
In the space of a single hour, Randy Andy lived up to the reputation for arrogance, self-pity, delusion and stupidity which has haunted him all his adult life. It is now eight years since Virginia Roberts publicly claimed she was procured by disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwells daughter Ghislane and used as a sex slave by pervert billionaire Epstein.
She claims she first met Prince Andrew in 2001 at Epsteins New York home and says they slept together three times, including an orgy on Epsteins private island.
The question why Andy had anything to do with notorious sleazebag Epstein in the first place prompts disturbing answers. Being honourable doesnt cut it. Gullibility only goes half-way. Owing a big, big favour might do the trick.
The Duke of York vehemently denies the bombshell allegations. But theyve stuck.
He has only now offered his version of events, using his then 13-year-old daughter as a startling new alibi.
He has no memory of ever meeting Roberts or of the photograph of them with arms around each other. With no evidence at all, he suggests the picture is a fake.
Yet through this foggy haze, he vividly recalls he was with daughter Beatrice at Wokings Pizza Express on the night in question.
He denies sweating profusely as he danced with Roberts at Tramp nightclub before alleged sex at Maxwells London townhouse because a rare medical condition caused by an adrenalin overdose as an under-fire Falklands pilot stops him perspiring. Yet other pictures at the time, show him sweating like a pig.
Detailed accounts of sex acts with Andy have been made by Roberts, now Ms Giuffre, and about Epstein, who served 13 months in jail for paedophile offences. Epstein cannot shed any light or contradict Andys account because he died in jail this year.
Damningly, Prince Andrew admits he stayed with Epstein in New York AFTER he had served time for sex crimes … for honourable reasons.
He has no choice because they were snapped together in Central Park, apparently on Epsteins instructions.
This would tally with claims Epstein kept photographic and video recordings of VIP guests, some intimate.
Sadly, Ms Maitlis failed to ask one key question: Did forgetful Andy have sex orgies with ANY young girls at Epsteins or Ghislane Maxwells homes during the period in question.
That might have stirred a few vague memories.