18/01/2022

Truth Might Not Be Enough: Prince Andew In The Mud As Royal Family Throws Him Out!!

Unlike the world sad news of January 2020, It’s difficult to imagine a worse start to 2022 for Prince Andrew as the Queen’s second son has been stripped of his cherished royal titles and will be the only one of his siblings no longer referred to as His (or Her) Royal Highness, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. The extraordinary statement came a day after a federal judge rejected a bid to have a civil suit against him in New York thrown out. Judge Lewis Kaplan effectively said Andrew does have a case to answer after being accused of sexual assault.

Now he’s facing the prospect of a very public trial later this year on allegations brought by Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was sexually trafficked to the royal by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, when she was underage. Andrew has previously denied all allegations and has said that he does not recall ever meeting the then-17-year-old, nor does he remember ever having the picture taken with her that has been featured repeatedly in media around the world.

A royal source told us that all Andrew’s titles — his military affiliations and other royal patronages — were returned to his mother effective immediately and will be redistributed to other members of the family.

We’ve been told the decision involved many of the Windsors, but the Queen will have had the final say, in close consultation with her direct heirs — Princes Charles and William.

To be clear: Andrew retains his own Duke of York title and he is still a member of the royal family, but, like the Sussexes, he will no longer represent the Queen in an official capacity.

The loss of the military titles in particular will be extremely painful for the prince, who, as a veteran of the Falklands War, took that part of the job most seriously.

In a press release on Thursday, announcing the Queen’s decision, it was made clear that Andrew will no longer have any royal public duties and will be defending himself as a private citizen in the allegations made by Giuffre.

The Duke of York does still have legal options he can pursue in the sexual assault lawsuit, but each comes with a degree of risk and no guarantee he’ll be able to mend his stained reputation. In a nutshell, the prince can opt to appeal the judge’s ruling, fight by going to trial, default or settle.

Several legal experts we’ve spoken to in the past 48 hours have suggested an out-of-court settlement may be the best approach. But Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, has indicated his client may prefer to have her day in court.

“I think it’s very important to Virginia Giuffre that this matter be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims. I don’t think she has a firm view as to exactly what a solution should be,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “But I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution vindicates her and vindicates the claim she has made.”

A source close to Prince Andrew told CNN Thursday that he will “continue to defend himself” against the sexual abuse lawsuit.

“Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling. However, it was not a judgement on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s allegations,” the source said.

“This is a marathon not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims,” the source added.

Andrew’s permanent removal from royal duties will surely have been a tough call for the matriarch, but one she clearly felt was needed in her capacity as head of the institution. The message here is this: The case in New York is simply too damaging to the family and the reputation of the monarchy — so he had to go.

With no official duties to perform, he will no longer receive public funds but will be free as a private citizen to take paid work in the private sector or source money through other private means to fund his very expensive legal effort. That would have been seen as a conflict of interest while he was an HRH.

The sovereign herself has faced some criticism for not acting fast enough as the scandal began to engulf Andrew back in 2019, following his car crash interview with the BBC over his relationship with Epstein. Many at the time felt he lacked empathy for the disgraced financier’s victims and that his titles should have been revoked then, rather than more than two years later.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer with the London-based firm Howard Kennedy, believes the family and public were “prepared to give him some latitude to defend himself on the grounds that you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

The prince’s attorneys had argued that Giuffre’s lawsuit violated the terms of her 2009 settlement agreement with Epstein in Florida, in which she agreed to a “general release” of claims against Epstein and others. That settlement, released to the public recently, shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault. The prince’s name does not explicitly appear as a party.

However, Stephens continued, “When he sought to say, with one side of his mouth, ‘I never met this woman’ and with the other, ‘Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile, settled my case for me or any case for me,’ I think that that was too much for the British public to stomach, and that was when the public, I think, decisively moved against Andrew and anyone that was seen to support him.”

“The criticism of the Queen and her tacit support for her son has really only occurred since Brettler (the duke’s lawyer) made that argument to Judge Kaplan, and it sounded more loudly since the results of that argument have come down,” he added.

The question now is: Will the duke’s permanent exile be enough reputational damage control in the eyes of the public? Legal experts say the Queen has responded authoritatively, acting promptly instead of waiting for any verdict should the case reach the trial stage. She only retains the crown by virtue of parliamentary support and that, in turn, relies on public support.

Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at international law firm Ince, called the removal of military titles and royal patronages, combined with no longer being able to use the HRH style in an official capacity, a “significant development.”

He said it was “probably enough” to quell further criticism of inaction from the public, adding “it certainly appears to have brought the Duke of York’s public life as a royal to an end for the foreseeable future.”

Stephens, too, believes the palace moved quickly and decisively. “Essentially, he’s been put out to pasture, and he’s been reduced in status to the same status as Prince Harry,” he said, adding: “The handing back of his titles and honorifics makes it clear that he has no part in the future of the public civic life of this country.”

Most notably that means Andrew won’t have a front seat at the upcoming jubilee celebrations to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. He will be there for group photos but without the prime position assumed by an HRH.

Andrew will now be hoping the public are able to compartmentalize the lawsuit and allow 2022 to be defined as a royal jubilee year instead of a scandalized one. That’s clearly the hope of the rest of the family.

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