The Royal family must become an elite once more.

The Windsors can no longer leave marriages to chance

I think I’d probably pay somebody half a million quid to help me avoid Prince Andrew. With those Pringle sweaters and the endless rounds of golf, Dallas-style housing, and hours wasted watching banal DVD movies on his six-foot wide surroundsound telly, it’s hard to imagine the bloke would have much of interest to say.

So you’d have to be pretty dumb to imagine that anyone would pay that much money to meet him. But Fergie – the mention of whose name always takes me back to that terrific Viz front page of many years ago, ‘Has Fergie got a fat arse or what?’ – is clearly also the owner of a fat head.

More to the point, she is also (like Princess Di) the product of a dysfunctional family: having a mum with a penchant for shagging Argentine polo players is very likely to produce a mum who goes out with her daughters on the pull – and stoops to extorting money from the Digger’s tabloid hacks.

“Look after me and he’ll look after you. . . you’ll get it back tenfold. I can open any door you want” said the Duchess, who if nothing else managed to avoid telling the reporter that she was a taxi – more a sort of express Royal gravy train.

Just as with the Geoff Hoon Gang, what we’re witnessing here is the collapse of a once-great civilisation. Plus, of course, further evidence that the problem of appalling behaviour stretches well beyond the Underclass. In fact in many ways, the yobs are merely aping the antics of those once called their betters. The movie The Duchess of Devonshire was a study in what happens when those setting an example decide to set a bad one. A hundred and fifty years on, footballers are doing the same thing – but so too are the directionless children of materially obsessed middle class and decadent upper-class parents.

Unlike Rupert Murdoch (who would like nothing better than for this sort of entrapment to produce a republic headed by President Cameron) I think these days that the survival of the Royal Family is vital to the retention of whatever values our culture has left – chief among these being a sense of social service. For all his myriad other faults, Prince Charles has that – as does his son William.

If it is to achieve this, however, the Royal Family must renounce its long-standing affair with the media, become far more professional about how it imports human resources into the family firm – and tell critics of its standards and ideals to go hang.