Prince Andrew is a man who has run out of road.
He has two stark options – drag his family through the mud or pay up.
The time for denials, evasion and waffling has ended. After Judge Kaplan dismissed the Duke’s attempt to have Virginia Giuffre’s civil case alleging she was forced to have sex with him when a minor thrown out, Randy Andy must make a life-changing decision.
Does he conform to his previous pig-headed stereotype and hope this messy business will all go away? Continue to claim he has ‘no recollection’ of ever meeting Miss Giuffre, even though the world has seen the photograph of his arm encircling her waist? Persist with a bizarre no-sweating alibi as proof he didn’t go to a nightclub the night in question, even though he’s not presented any medical evidence?
Only a truly dumb arrogant individual would do such a thing.
Sadly, Prince Andrew fits that description.
Ms Giuffre has been given permission to go ahead and sue for battery and emotional distress. She alleges convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with his friends, including the Duke, and seeks substantial damages for distress and battery. Now, both sides will prepare their arguments, setting out their evidence and who they propose to call as expert witnesses, by the end of July. A trial date is set for September.
JANET STREET-PORTER: Prince Andrew is a man who has run out of road. He has two stark options – drag his family through the mud or pay up
To further her case, Miss Giuffre could call Prince Charles, the Duke’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, and women who are known to have had a sexual relationship with the Prince. Andrew might manage to evade going to New York in person but he would have to submit to questioning from her legal team about his close friendship with the convicted sex offenders Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in his prison cell in August 2019. Details of his sexual preferences would surely form part of her case.
The prospect of the wonderfully eccentric (I’m being kind) Sarah Ferguson testifying in Andrews’ defence could be even more entertaining than the recent episodes of Succession. Fergie is a lovely woman but utterly naïve. Who can forget she gave the world those ‘toe sucking’ headlines following her divorce from Andrew? Since then, she’s tottered from one financial crisis to the next, flogging dieting, appearing in reality TV shows and writing children’s books. Andrew persuaded Jeffrey Epstein to help with a £15,000 to pay off a former assistant so that her other debts if £5million could be restructured. Sarah has since apologised for taking the money, saying ‘my judgement was clouded’.
Immune to criticism, Fergie is defending her ex-husband to anyone who will listen. The couple are close pals, even though divorced, and share a Royal Lodge at Windsor rented from the Crown Estate. When the Queen refused to pay Andrew’s legal bills, he was forced to flog the only home he owned – an £18million Swiss chalet. Mind you, he had to pay the former owner the £6million he had owed for so long she was threatening legal action.
Airmiles Andy and Goofy Fergie are characters beloved of comedians and dramatists, and both seem blissfully unaware of how they appear to the outside (non-Royal) world.
JANET STREET-PORTER: After Judge Kaplan dismissed the Duke’s attempt to have Virginia Giuffre’s civil case alleging she was forced to have sex with him when a minor thrown out, Randy Andy must make a life-changing decision
Having met them both on several occasions and sat next to Andrew at dinner I can confirm their utter lack of social skills.
Sarah is charming and sweet, but Andrew worryingly dumb.
The Virginia Giuffre suit is a real-life soap opera, but at its heart are extremely serious allegations of sexual abuse and coercion, the story of a young girl who says she was groomed to give older rich men pleasure whilst legally a child.
Whatever really happened between Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew will be decided in court, but the damage to his standing is devastating. Experts in dealing with reputational damage say his gamble to bad mouth Giuffre has backfired, and now his stock stands at rock bottom.
If Andrew decides to contest the case, he could harm the Monarchy and it would certainly shine a light on aspects of his personal life and friendship choices no member of the Royal family would willingly disclose. What’s left of his privacy would vanish.
It’s well documented that Prince Andrew is not the smartest tool in the box, that his brain cells barely outnumber the medals and honorary awards he’s been given for a life notable for its lack of meaningful achievements. Following his retirement from the Royal Navy in 2001 Andrew managed to rise to the rank of Honorary Vice Admiral, despite spending most of his time on a golf course or on a jet to somewhere hot and far away from the UK.
JANET STREET-PORTER: Matters can only get worse for the Duke. Now he must decide whether to cough up and bow out. Forever
Any notion of riding out the storm vanished after his disastrous BBC interview with Emily Maitliss in 2019, when he steadfastly claimed that on the night of the photograph with Miss Giuffre, (when she says they visited a nightclub and had sex, even though he knew she was 17) he was at home with his family following a visit to a Pizza Express in Woking.
Giuffre’s legal team say they can produce a witness who says she saw the Prince at Tramp that night.
Matters can only get worse for the Duke.
Now he must decide whether to cough up and bow out. Forever.
Given that the Palace has just announced a series of national events, years in the planning to celebrate his mother’s history-making 70-year reign, my money would be on option two.
On the 6th of February, the Queen will be 96. Her official birthday is in June, but every member of her immediate family will want to wish her well and support her after the lonely months following her husband’s death in April last year.
The Platinum Jubilee celebrations are designed to whip the nation into a love-fest and reignite our love of pageantry and history. During a bank holiday weekend in June, there will be a birthday parade with 1400 troops, followed by an RAF flypast. Beacons will be lit up and down the land. There’s will be the usual Thanksgiving Service, followed by a day at the Derby and a live rock concert from the Mall. On Sunday street parties are planned, and- to top it all, a competition is being held to choose the best Platinum pudding to sum up everything that’s Great about Britain and Her Majesty.
Now, where does someone who chose two convicted child sex offenders as his close friends – and who took them to his mother’s homes and paraded them at race meetings and social events – fit in this fabulous extravaganza?
Would you like to see Prince Andrew at your pudding making competition, or dishing out the pies at your local street party?
I thought not.
The best thing Andrew could do now is negotiate a settlement without admitting liability, quietly resign from all his Ceremonial roles, pack up his golf clubs and find a resort in a nice far-flung bit of the British Commonwealth – or one of his favourite Russian satellite states – where he can manage bookings for the putting greens and drive his new 300,000 Bentley up and down the main street.
Time to bow out, sir.