SARAH VINE: A whole way of life was on trial – not just Ghislaine Maxwell
Like many people, I was deeply moved by the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, and in particular how someone with so many opportunities in life might end up, at the age of 60, languishing in a filthy New York prison awaiting conviction after being convicted of five counts of recruiting underage girls for sexual purposes.
There are clues, of course. As author John Preston explains in Fall, her insightful biography of Ghislaine’s father Robert Maxwell (worth reading), she grew up under the grip of power and privilege.
Her father was temperamental and demanding, but she allayed his anger with his unwavering desire to please him.
He rewarded her with paternal adoration. She was his undisputed favorite, as evidenced by the fact that he named his yacht Lady Ghislaine after her.
Like many people, I was deeply moved by the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, and in particular how someone with so many opportunities in life might end up, at the age of 60, languishing in a filthy New York prison awaiting conviction after being convicted of five counts of recruiting underage girls for sexual purposes
But he was also an extremely controlling presence, a man who demanded a high psychological price for his affection, and who often made her dance on the end of a golden leash. Echoes of Ghislaine’s late lover and “co-conspirator”, Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell Snr was a man who escaped life in a two-room wooden cabin in the shadow of a lost salt mine in Czechoslovakia to become – at one point – one of the wealthiest individuals and most powerful on the planet.
And yet, like Epstein, he died under ignominious circumstances, leaving only a legacy of pain.
As fascinating as these parallels are, it is not the obvious Freudian aspects of Ghislaine’s life that I find most interesting. This is what his trial tells us about the world we once lived in – and the world we live in today.
Quite simply, it wasn’t just Ghislaine who was on trial in this New York courtroom, but a whole culture. A culture where wealth, privilege and power gave people permission to do anything they wanted, without fear of consequences
It highlights how much society has changed since the glory days of rogue press barons like Maxwell – and how power is now in very different hands.
Quite simply, it wasn’t just Ghislaine who was on trial in this New York courtroom, but a whole culture. A culture where wealth, privilege and power gave people permission to do anything they wanted, without fear of the consequences.
A culture where being rich, or having title, or owning a yacht or an island meant that you were above the law, free from the moral values of ordinary people, free to pursue your perversions without fear of retribution.
A culture where the idea of a wealthy middle-aged man flying in planes filled with teenage girls to the delight of his guests didn’t seem exactly unusual, and any uncomfortable questions were simply stifled by money or influence.
A culture that, in the end, was rotten to the core.
And it wasn’t limited to the Maxwells and Epsteins of this world, either. In the 1980s and 1990s, this type of behavior was rampant. Look at the way Bill Clinton treated Monica Lewinsky.
Think about how long it took people to come to terms with what Jimmy Savile was really doing. Consider all those pop stars and their barely pubescent girlfriends, revered to this day as demigods, despite countless minor banter. The examples are endless.
It was a world where power and wealth made people omnipotent, and that’s what lies at the heart of the Maxwell trial. Watching a group of ordinary working-class women bring down their millionaire aggressor sounds like an extraordinary turn of events, an almost anarchic reversal of secular mores, true culture shock.
And while that verdict may represent a victory for Epstein’s victims, for many who still belong to this rarefied world, it goes against the natural order of things. Which may partly explain Prince Andrew’s mulish response to the accusations made by Virginia Giuffre.
He remains locked in this state of mind, convinced of the invulnerability of his royal status, dazzled by his own sense of entitlement, unable to read the writing on the wall. He still believes he matters more than her. He still believes that she is just a small inconvenience that sooner or later mom’s money will make it go away. Only something tells me: not this time.
Madame Macron’s real troubled past …
I find the idea that Brigitte Macron, on the left, wife of the French president, could be transgender – something she vehemently refutes – not even a little disturbing, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. What bothers me, especially in light of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, is the idea that she would have seduced her future husband when he was only 15 and she was 39.
Lexi Holden, 15, a descendant of Amanda, is said to be considering a career in modeling, having been approached by several agencies. No doubt she has what it takes: She’s gorgeous, like her mom’s Instagram photo of the couple frolicking in bikinis in Antigua during the Christmas show. But surely there is more to life than just being another “daughter of”?
One study found that teens are reluctant to clean their sneakers because they see crud as a memento from their “life experiences.” Is this also their excuse for the empty cartons of milk in the fridge, the crisps on the sofa, the mountain of wet towels, the empty vodka bottles in the laundry basket and the cigarette butts on the windowsill? Ask a friend.
I didn’t do much on New Years Eve, I just took a walk. But when I opened my back door to let out the old year and heard the screams and cheers of the neighbors ringing in the new one, I for once felt the air crackle with real excitement. This left me with a feeling of temporary optimism for 2022. Happy New Year!
Dry January? No chance
Sorry guys, it’s New Years but not a new me. I will not give up alcohol, go vegan, or participate in any of the deprivations of the season. January is far too miserable to be on the wagon.
It’s long, dark, and full of bills and I can’t try it without wine and chocolate. So feel free to send any surplus of either and I’ll do my best to dispose of it.
Taylor is just fabulous
Billy Joel has been criticized for describing Taylor Swift as “the Beatles of this generation”. If you ask me, he’s not far off the mark. She may seem like the epitome of a pop princess, but her rhythmic beats and catchy choruses belies the deep meaning of her lyrics. She’s my secret culprit.
I must admit that my inner schoolboy always suppresses a laugh when people solemnly talk about the Order of the Garter. But now that the Duchess of Cornwall has been named there, speculation returns whether, when Charles becomes King, she will be called the Princess Consort – under current arrangements – or Queen, according to tradition.
Personally, I think it doesn’t matter. Her years of dedication to Prince Charles and the way she conducted herself with grace and dignity while enduring countless insults on her character speak for themselves. Even though she never gets the title, she’s already a queen in my book.
IKEA is raising prices, in some cases by 50 percent, citing “supply chain issues”. The Malm desk, a teenage bedroom staple, goes from £ 99 to £ 150. The Hemnes day bed will now cost £ 279 instead of £ 215. Add to that the costs of driving to the store, splurging on meatballs and giant bags of deer bars, plus the 792 tattoo items that end up in your cart (not to mention the cost of marriage therapy when the one of you throws a screw in the wrong place, leaving it all shattered) and you might as well go to Harrods.
The parents of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes are subject to a review of their sentence after their “unduly lenient” sentences have been referred to the judges of appeal. Admittedly, 21 and 29 years old respectively don’t seem like much for starving, beating and torturing a six-year-old to death. Especially when you consider that Ghislaine Maxwell is risking 60 years to be what essentially amounts to a lady of high society. Don’t get me wrong, what she’s done is still disgusting. But she didn’t kill anyone.