Source: Shadow of Prince Andrew Scandal Looms Over Buckingham Palace
Discovered on: 2022-01-14 16:53:00
On Thursday, British tabloids published a grainy photograph of
riding in the back of a Range Rover on his way to see his mother,
It was a rare image of a royal who has largely disappeared from public view. Hours after the photo appeared, Buckingham Palace announced the 61-year-old prince was stripped of his patronages and titles—including that of High Royal Highness—as the British monarchy looks to insulate itself from the reputational damage caused by a continuing legal case alleging the prince sexually abused a 17-year-old girl. Prince Andrew has denied all the allegations.
For the royal family, however, Prince Andrew—who is facing a possible civil trial later this year on the allegations—isn’t going away.
“This hasn’t nipped it in the bud,” said David McClure, author of the Queen’s True Worth. “But it is a sensible move and maybe it is a slightly overdue move.”
Firing a royal isn’t the same as dismissing an errant employee. Despite stepping back from royal duties, the queen’s second son is still a prince, the Duke of York and ninth in line to the throne.
Acts of parliament are required to remove those final royal vestiges, said Bob Morris, a research associate for University College London’s Constitution Unit. The queen will also likely have to offer financial support to her son, said Mr. McClure, much like she did when her eldest son Prince Charles divorced his first wife Diana.
The process is proving an extreme test of an age-old conundrum for the monarchy: how to distance itself from extraneous members.
Prince Andrew isn’t alone in being stripped of the HRH title, which is given at the queen’s discretion. Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson lost her HRH title, as did Princess Diana when she divorced Prince Charles. Queen Elizabeth’s grandson
and his wife Meghan Duchess of Sussex agreed not to use their HRH titles when they acrimoniously quit as working royals.
Exiting royals have always exposed the palace to the risk they will exploit their regal connections for profit and tarnish the monarchy’s image. Prince Andrew, however, has taken this threat to another level, royal watchers say.
By stripping Prince Andrew of his title the queen hopes to achieve two things, according to a person close to the family.
First, it shows that she understands the public dismay toward Prince Andrew’s alleged behavior. It also seeks to shield the royal institution. Prince Andrew is no longer an official working royal, so any criticism would be focused on him as a private citizen rather than as a member of the U.K.-taxpayer-backed monarchy.
The prospect looms of a trial stemming from the prince’s old friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently convicted of sex trafficking minors. One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, filed the lawsuit against Prince Andrew last year, alleging she was forced to have sex with the British royal when she was a teenager.
Prince Andrew has already spent over two years in a sort of internal exile, barred from public engagements following a clumsy attempt to clear his name with a 2019 televised interview. A poll by YouGov shows that 12% of Brits currently have a positive view of him.
However, salacious revelations in a New York court risk shaking a core and carefully curated tenet of the House of Windsor: that it is a force for good in society.
As a result, the prince should settle the matter out of court with Ms. Giuffre, said Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at law firm Ince Gordon Dadds LLP in London. “The least worst outcome is to end this process as quickly as possible, even if that means saying sorry,” he said. He estimates it would cost the royal family less than £10 million, or $13.7 million, to do so.
A New York trial is penciled in for the fall. If the litigation proceeds, Prince Andrew must turn over requested information to Ms. Giuffre’s lawyers as part of the discovery phase of the litigation.
He also faces the possibility of an hourslong videotaped deposition, where her lawyers can grill him on questions related to the allegations in the lawsuit. Prince Andrew could refuse to answer some questions under the Fifth Amendment, which protects an individual’s rights to self-incrimination.
That deposition could unearth details about private conversations with other members of the royal family or new evidence that federal prosecutors could use to request the prince be extradited, said Mr. Goldstone.
In a worst-case scenario, it could also see Prince Andrew’s two daughters Eugenie and Beatrice being questioned since they form part of the prince’s alibi, said Mr. Goldstone. The prince said in a BBC interview that he was with his daughters at home on the day Ms. Giuffre alleges she was sexual abused in London.
On Thursday, lawyers for Prince Andrew and Ms. Giuffre filed a proposed agreement in court making some exchanged material confidential, including medical records and the names of sex-abuse accusers. A judge still must approve the agreement.
For years Prince Andrew held out for a royal rehabilitation, officials say. In 2019 the palace announced the prince was stepping back for the foreseeable future, leaving the door ajar for his return.
Public pressure mounted, however. This week, more than 100 British military veterans wrote to the queen demanding that Prince Andrew be stripped of his military positions.
Buckingham Palace also wanted to close a chapter on the affair before the queen marks her 70 years on the throne next month. Even if he clears his name in court, the fact that he was close to Epstein and Ms. Maxwell will continue to hang over him, said Mr. McClure.
And so the palace “has gone quite a long way to giving him the heave-ho,” he said.
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8