"Rasputin's a good Russian… he drinks far too much from time to time.
"He's a lad of the village. Fancies himself with those, no doubt, emotionally and sexually frustrated ladies of the court. You can see the photographs of them all, with their big bosoms, their sentimental, rather soppy, stupid expressions – in some cases, a notable mustache – all getting sentimental about this great big Russian peasant, in the middle of the group photograph. And, he had obviously, a way of soaping up these ladies. And I think it made terribly bad publicity for the court. But in terms of actual policy, I don't think Rasputin was that important.
"Very enlightened, educated people believed in spiritualism at that time, from Freud onwards. And the idea that if you got a child who's hemophiliac – who cannot be trusted, even to fall over, without setting off some kind of internal bleeding which could kill him – with that sort of situation, you have a faith healer around to deal with it, because the ordinary doctors can't.
"Rasputin did manage to become something of a party catch for those ladies.
"Now Rasputin established a certain kind of ascendancy within the court, no doubt with these various frustrated ladies. And he occupies more prominence, I think, in the literature of the subject, precisely because people are willing to believe the worst of that court."