“With the approval and consent of the Queen, all the titles that linked the Duke of York to the armed forces, as well as the patronage duties of a member of the royal family, have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue to not perform any public duties and defend himself in a famous case as a private person “.
The two proposals, published on January 13 by the Buckingham Palace press office, marked a new stage in the most high-profile scandal that the British royal family has dealt with in the past few decades. The average and, according to the British media, beloved son of Elizabeth II finally became a pariah after the American court refused to dismiss the claim of American Virginia Giuffre, who accuses him of sexual violence. 61-year-old Prince Andrew has lost a dozen honorary military ranks, the right to be the patron of any organization and will no longer be able to use the title of His Royal Highness.
The queen’s son retained only the title of duke (the procedure for his deprivation is very complicated) and the rank of vice admiral, which he received after 22 years of service in the Royal Navy and participation in the Falklands War. In theory, the prince still has the right to take the British throne, as he is still ninth in line to the throne, but the likelihood of such a development of events is extremely small.
The public and newspapers sympathize with Elizabeth II, but at the same time they reproach the royal family, which limited itself to half measures, although the scandal around the prince began to grow more than ten years ago.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The problems of the Queen’s son began with the fact that he became close friends with the American financier and multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2008 received a sentence for child molestation. The prince’s name appeared in the case file, where he was mentioned among the participants in parties with girls that Epstein arranged.
In 2011, Giuffre (then maiden name Roberts) openly stated that Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince when she was only 17 years old. The woman told the tabloid The Mail on Sunday that from the age of 15 she was formally a masseuse, but in fact a kept woman and sex slave of Epstein and his mistress Ghilain Maxwell. As was proven during the trial of Maxwell (she faces 65 years in prison), together with Epstein, she involved dozens of girls in prostitution, the youngest of whom was 14 years old. They are believed to have provided sexual favors to powerful friends of Epstein, who, according to Giuffre, included American bankers, politicians and scientists, an unnamed European prime minister, as well as members of several royal families.
Giuffre claims that Prince Andrew had sex with her three times against her will in 2001. He was 41 at the time, had just completed a long divorce from Sarah Ferguson, and had earned himself the nickname Prince of the Party by riding around the world. The consequences of the scandal overtook the prince not immediately. He denied that he had ever met Giuffre, continued to receive support from the Queen, and a photograph of him in the company of Maxwell and Giuffre smiling broadly was declared a fake.
The situation changed in 2019 after Epstein’s arrest and subsequent suicide. Old accusations against the prince have been resurfaced, and a BBC interview in which he was supposed to be able to clarify the situation only made things worse for him, leaving the impression of confused excuses, insincerity, arrogance and lack of any sympathy for Epstein’s victims. by the prince. Andrew even admitted that he did not regret the 20-year friendship with the American, as it was useful to him. The British media declared the interview a disaster for the Duke of York, who temporarily stepped down from official duties just a few days after it aired.
Giuffre, on the other hand, filed a lawsuit against the son of Elizabeth II, taking advantage of the opportunity to ignore the statute of limitations that the state of New York at that time provided victims of sexual violence.
On January 12, 2022, the Southern District Court in New York rejected the arguments of the prince’s lawyers, who insisted that in 2009, having entered into an out-of-court agreement with Epstein and received $500,000 in compensation, Giuffre undertook to refuse to prosecute both the financier himself and his acquaintances, including Prince Andrew. The duke’s representatives also failed to achieve recognition of the claim as non-jurisdictional on other grounds, and its consideration on the merits is expected in September-December of this year.
Members of the British royal family have never been tried outside the kingdom and have not been accused of committing serious crimes of this nature. Experts unanimously say that now any legal scenario is bad for the prince, who can only choose the best option for the reputation of the royal family by sacrificing himself. The most likely is the conclusion of an out-of-court agreement, which ends 95% of civil lawsuits filed in the United States. A deal with the plaintiff would not formally mean an admission of guilt, but the public would hardly perceive it in any other way. Difficulties are also created by the position of the American, who declared a crusade against the prince, insisting that she seeks justice, not money. Giuffre, who was first sexually abused as a child, now engaged in human rights activities and fights against the exploitation of adolescents. She declares that she will go to the world only if the prince repents, however, the recent reservation of her representative, who said that a fairly large amount of compensation can already be considered as a kind of recognition, is noteworthy.
Theoretically, the prince can refuse to participate in the process (then the judge will issue a verdict without holding a hearing) or exercise the right not to testify against himself. In the meantime, he insists on his version of events. On January 27, his lawyers said that Andrew was ready for the jury to consider the rape claim, and they rejected all the accusations made by Jufre against the prince point by point. From the published court document, it is clear that attempts to recognize the claim as non-judicial will continue, but until mid-July, the prince will have to give pre-trial testimony under oath, which he will take from the well-known lawyer David Boyce, who has been representing Jufra since 2014. Colleagues call him the best master of many hours of interrogation in the USA – this can be a problem for the prince,
The plaintiff’s representatives also have the right to request the testimony of any possible witnesses, which may include Andrew’s adult daughters, since he previously stated that he celebrated the birthday of one of them in a pizzeria on the very evening when, according to Giuffre, one of the three her meeting with the prince. Boyce says he is unlikely to need to talk to anyone in the royal family other than the Duke of York himself, but the mere possibility of such conversations hardly pleases Buckingham Palace, for which the current situation is unprecedented. However, it is worth remembering that in the case of Prince Andrew, we are talking only about a civil suit, and not about criminal prosecution, and he does not face prison.
British, and even more so American public opinion has not been on the side of the Queen’s beloved son for a long time. He is also reminded of the fact that for many years he did not comment on the allegations in person, and attempts to avoid serving court documents by representatives of Jufra. A flurry of accusations of trying to “denigrate the victim” was caused by the very first statements by the prince’s lawyers, who wanted to interview the American psychotherapist to clarify whether she could have formed false memories of meetings with Andrew.
It is noteworthy that acquaintances of the Duke of York, with whom The Times correspondent spoke on condition of anonymity last year, have no doubt that Giuffre could have had a connection with the prince. However, they do not think that Andrew understood that the “masseuse” was spending time with him against her will. Giuffre herself insists that the prince was well aware of her role in Epstein’s entourage.
30 years ago, summing up the results of 1992, Elizabeth II said that for the royal family it was annus horribilis (“terrible year”). The wife of Prince Charles Diana publicly accused him of treason, and also admitted that she was on the verge of suicide. At the same time, pictures of a half-naked Sarah Ferguson that got into the newspapers gave reason to suspect her of infidelity to Prince Andrew. And in Windsor Castle there was a strong fire, and it was not clear to whom to pay for the restoration of the royal residence. Today, British observers use the same turn in Latin, remembering what the past 12 months have turned out for Her Majesty. Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle publicly accused the royal family of indifference and racism, and also admitted that she was on the verge of suicide; Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip dies at 99
However, sex scandals are not uncommon in the history of the British royal family. For example, George IV, with whom Prince Andrew is compared today, was famous for his promiscuity. Today, however, the strength of the British throne is ensured by the impeccable reputation and carefully guarded image of the reigning queen. In an era of “media monarchy,” members of the royal family, constantly under the guns of cameras, cannot afford the kind of reputational damage that Prince Andrew suffered. This is a direct and painful blow to the institution, which is already facing severe trials when Elizabeth II is replaced on the throne by her eldest son, who is much less popular among the British.
Increasingly, there is an opinion that the scandal with the Duke of York will accelerate the transformations conceived by Prince Charles many years ago. The events of 1992 destroyed the illusion of the Windsors’ almost fabulous family well-being. Public discussion about the cost of the monarchy to the people forced them to resume paying taxes after a 60-year hiatus, and then start reporting on most of the expenses. Under the pressure of current circumstances, the royal family may experience a new transformation, shrinking to a dozen people in order to protect themselves from new scandals and reproaches. According to British media, the heir to the throne plans to deprive the privileges of minor members of the royal family, who still receive maintenance or have state protection. Among them are the daughters of Prince Andrew, and Prince Michael of Kent, who was recently accused by newspapers of trying to cash in on his status. Part of the process that began was the recent excommunication from the “Firm” (as the late husband of Elizabeth II called his family) Prince Harry and his wife.
Against this background, the question of what the Duke of York will now exist for becomes unpleasantly acute for the royal family. Previously, he received a quarter of a million pounds annually from his mother. She still lives on her estate at Windsor Castle. And if he had to admit defeat, he would also have to pay off his lawyers, as well as Giuffre. Although the amount of the claim has not been disclosed, it is undoubtedly many millions.