As the battle rages over whether the court papers in Virginia Giuffre's civil lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexual assault and rape have been served properly, the Prince is lying low on the Queen's 50,0000-acre Balmoral estate , much like Ghislaine Maxwell did in rural New Hampshire.
It is clear he is still counting on his mother's support, given last week's woodland lunch summit at a secluded lodge on the fringes of the sprawling estate. His holiday companion and most public champion, Sarah Ferguson, has also rallied round, declaring she "kept [her] commitment" to her ex-husband "no matter what". Love and loyalty are admirable qualities, but Prince Andrew's troubles can no longer be wished away.
If the US judge decides papers have been served correctly, yet the Prince and his lawyers boycott the pre-trial hearing in New York that starts tomorrow, the judge could find against him by default and award substantial damages anyway. Even if Andrew found a way to avoid paying up – the royal coffers would surely be closed – the damage to his reputation would be terminal.
It would also mean that a US federal court had found Giuffre to be a credible witness. Among her allegations of sexual abuse , which she claims took place when she was 17 at convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's New York home, on his private Caribbean island and at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, is "rape in the first degree", a very serious crime involving forcible compulsion. Then there is the looming threat of a Scotland Yard investigation. Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, recently insisted that "no one is above the law" when revealing that Guiffre's allegations were being reviewed for the third time. The time for reviews would be over.
There has been talk of mounting a legal argument whereby the case could be thrown out due to a confidential agreement that Mrs Giuffre, then Miss Roberts, made with Epstein in 2009, which may contain a clause preventing her from taking action against others associated with the case, Prince Andrew included. Last month, Giuffre's high-profile civil claim against Alan Dershowitz was dismissed on similar grounds and the former Harvard law professor is now trying to get that agreement unsealed. He has asked for a copy to be sent to the Duke's lawyers, to help them get the case against him dropped.
However, dismissing the case on such a technicality is unlikely to end the Prince's nightmare, given Giuffre will have another day, or days, in court when the criminal trial against Ghislaine Maxwell starts in November, where she is bound to be a prominent witness for the prosecution. Guiffre has been gunning for Prince Andrew from the start and would probably find it irresistible to use the public platform of a witness box to denounce him. No doubt her testimony would be broadcast around the world and he would have no forum to defend himself.
Maxwell's trial concerns allegations of the trafficking of young women and girls. If Guiffre persists in claiming that she was procured for the Prince in London at the age of 17, then there are further troubles on the horizon. Guiffre made the same complaint to the Met in 2015, but it was never investigated under the Sexual Offences Act of 1956. Despite what Commissioner Dick has said, it is hard not to read this as one rule for some, another for the rest of us.
In his infamous BBC Newsnight interview in 2019, Prince Andrew vehemently denied all of Giuffre's claims and said he did not even recall meeting her, despite the incriminating photograph of him with his arm around her waist, and Maxwell smiling wolfishly in the background. Responding to the assault allegations he said: "I can absolutely, categorically tell you it never happened."
If this is the truth, then it can be demonstrated, with the help of Scotland Yard, at least. They must keep the logs of royal protection officers which would show where Prince Andrew was, when and with whom. If these were published it would blow Giuffre's case out of the water – and perhaps prove that Prince Andrew was a patron of Pizza Express in Woking, all along.
However, there is still the matter of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request. In June last year, the US Department of Justice made a formal request to the Home Office for their help in seeking the co-operation of Prince Andrew as a witness in the Ghislaine Maxwell case.
Under the treaty Prince Andrew was supposed to have 21 days to co-operate before Priti Patel sent Scotland Yard round to question him. And, if he did not cooperate, he should have been subpoenaed to appear in a public court and be asked the DoJ's questions.
Clearly that has not happened as, since the change of administration in the US, the request has been repeated, with the Prince named a "person of interest" in the Epstein-Maxwell investigation. It seems astonishing that the United Kingdom should be in breach of an international treaty with our closest ally over this matter.
It ought to be stressed that Prince Andrew has never been charged, let alone convicted of any criminal offence. However, prosecutors in 2020 said Andrew had "sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate" while having given no interview to federal authorities and repeatedly declined requests to talk with investigators. The office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York say they do not expect to be able to interview him in the foreseeable future, if ever.
The scandal had already prompted tentative discussions about a wider reshuffle of the royals' honorary military roles, the Telegraph reported last month. The Duke, 61, was said to be keen to hang on to his role as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, but not expected to take part in next year's Trooping the Colour, with multiple sources admitting that with the lawsuit hanging over him, it would be impossible.
Many believe the honourable thing to do now is for Prince Andrew to speak to the FBI. He does not have to fly to America. The bureau has an office in the new American Embassy in London's Nine Elms. If the Black Lives Matter protesters could find their way there, the Duke surely could too. Then, armed with the royal protection officers' logs, he should fly to New York, appear in a Manhattan federal court and put an end to Mrs Giuffre's civil case, once and for all. If he does not do those things, it is hard to see how the public will not be left wondering why.
The real problem with Prince Andrew's current strategy is the reputational damage being done to the rest of the Royal family, as if there weren't already enough trouble with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Prince of Wales's unfortunate association with Michael Fawcett and the alleged cash-for-honours scandal. One could be forgiven for thinking the wheels were coming off the House of Windsor.
And then, of course, there is the Queen herself, who has only recently lost her husband, her rock for almost 70 years. The enduring shadow that has been cast over the son long-reputed to be her favourite cannot be easy to bear.
The beginning of this week's courtroom battle is the moment when the Palace could still escape further collateral damage from this royal car crash by having the Prince retire permanently from public life and hand in his HRH title – if not for his own sake, then at least that of his mother. Then, perhaps it is time for Prince Andrew to pour himself a stiff whiskey and to man up. He faced General Galtieri and the Argentinians. Surely it is time to come out from behind the battlements of Balmoral and face up to Virginia Giuffre as well. Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace (Gibson Square)
- Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is coming October 8th
- Kingdom Come Deliverance bad trip quest is extremely NSFW
- The Final Hours of Prince of Persia
- Trump pats Putin on the back and chats with smiling Saudi Crown Prince - the man accused of ordering the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi - who stands in the front row for 'family photo' at G20 summit
- TGS 2008: Prince of Persia Hands-On
- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within Preview
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Feature Preview
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Q&A
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Updated Impressions
- Liar Princess and the Blind Prince for PS4, Switch, and PS Vita Gets First Screenshots and Art
- Prince of Persia First Impressions
- Prince of Persia 2 Update
- Prince of Persia 2 (working title) Updated Impressions - E3 2004
- Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince Review
- Prince of Persia PSP (working title) First Look
- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within Updated Hands-On
- Prince of Persia E3 2003 Preshow Report
- Prince of Persia sequel and movie in the works
- Prince of Persia 2 title confirmed
- Prince of Persia Revelations revealed
Is it time for Prince Andrew to come out from behind the battlements of Balmoral? have 1536 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at September 11, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.