Prince Andrew’s ongoing legal battle with Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre has left some wondering why the Duke of York still has his royal title.
On Wednesday, a judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the British prince by the American woman who said he sexually abused her when she was 17.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected an argument by Andrew’s attorneys that Giuffre’s lawsuit should be thrown out at an early stage because of an old legal settlement she had with Epstein, the late American financier she claimed set up sexual encounters with the royal. Kaplan said the $500,000 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre didn’t involve the prince and didn’t bar a suit against him now.
Queen Elizabeth II’s second son previously quit public duties in November 2019, but he’s still listed on the royal family’s website as a patron or member of around 100 charities and organizations. The 61-year-old is also referred to as “His Royal Highness” or HRH on the royal family site.
Prince Andrew is the second son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP)
“How does Andrew get to keep his HRH title when he’s embroiled in this mess, [but Prince] Harry and Meghan [Markle] are banned from using theirs just for leaving everyday working life?” a royal source told The New York Post.
“I’m fairly sure that’s the exact same question being asked inside the palace,” the insider continued. “They just have to do something with today’s news [about the lawsuit moving forward] – they can’t just sit at their end and ignore it. They can’t keep the status quo, they have to do something.”
The outlet noted that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex cannot use their HRH titles officially since they stepped back as senior members of the British royal family. The couple now resides in California with their two children.
The prince also remains colonel of the Grenadier Guards, a post he took over from his late father Prince Philip. The outlet pointed out that this role allows Andrew to ride in the Trooping the Colour, the annual military parade that celebrates the queen’s official birthday.
Photo from 2001 that was included in court files shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew has denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. (U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
Royal biographer Christopher Warwick told Sky News that while the queen, 95, “let it be known” she wanted her son to keep the title, there was “a feeling across the regiment that it’s not appropriate to retain him.”
“It puts her in an invidious situation but, of course, as his mother, what she’s not going to do is turn her back on him,” Warwick added.
Still, that didn’t stop former lance sergeant Julian Perreira to speak out for Andrew to step down from his role as colonel “immediately.” Earlier this month, the veteran told the Times of London that Andrew retaining the title “will put a stain on the regiment’s proud history and devalue the hard work of past and future generations of Grenadiers.”
In August, a source told The Mirror that Andrew’s nephew Prince William, as well as several other members of the royal family, “are undoubtedly increasingly concerned about the effect all of this turmoil could have on the queen.”
Prince Andrew (left) with his nephew Prince William (right), who is second in line to the British throne. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Giuffre sued Andrew in August, alleging she was coerced into sexual encounters with him in 2001 by Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre said she was sexually abused by Andrew at Maxwell’s London home, at Epstein’s New York mansion and his estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Andrew’s lawyers had said the lawsuit lacked specificity and was disqualified by the deal she reached in 2009 with lawyers for Epstein. They also attacked Giuffre’s credibility and motives, saying in October that the lawsuit was aimed at achieving “another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him.” Kaplan said Giuffre’s complaint is neither “unintelligible” nor “vague” nor “ambiguous.”
Kaplan noted that he was required by law, at this stage of the litigation, to assume Giuffre’s allegations are true, though the prince’s lawyers could cast doubt on the truth of the claims at trial. The judge has said a trial would not occur until late this year, at the earliest. Depositions of the prince and Giuffre would take place before then.
David Boies, representing several of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, center, arrives with Annie Farmer, right, and Virginia Giuffre, at federal court in New York, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Epstein, a convicted pedophile, killed himself in prison while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and trafficking minors for sex. (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Andrew has long denied Giuffre’s allegations. In late 2019, Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight that sex with Giuffre “didn’t happen” and he has “no recollection” of ever meeting her. His statements led critics to say he seemed insensitive to Epstein’s victims. Afterward, the prince stepped back from royal duties.
Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for Giuffre, said in a statement that Kaplan’s ruling “is another important step in Virginia’s heroic and determined pursuit of justice as a survivor of sex trafficking.”
While Andrew denies the allegations, Buckingham Palace will want him to settle the case so the queen can move on without more sordid headlines that weaken the monarchy and taint every member of the royal family, said Mark Stephens, a specialist in international law at Howard Kennedy in London.
Stephens said Wednesday’s ruling means the process of delaying every technical point open to them as a matter of law has effectively played itself out. Even though Andrew is likely to appeal, the case will move forward, and he will face the embarrassment of having to testify about his alleged activities with a 17-year-old.
Prince Andrew has attempted to keep a low profile since he stepped back from public duties. (AP)
“The practical realities of this position have stuck a noose around Prince Andrew’s neck,” Stephens said. “He’s got to settle. He’s got to get out. Or he’s a dead man walking.”
Giuffre’s settlement with Epstein was reached a decade before the 66-year-old financier killed himself at a Manhattan federal lockup as he awaited a sex trafficking trial in 2019. Epstein’s death came more than two years before his former girlfriend, Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in Manhattan federal court. Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew were not part of the criminal cases against Epstein or Maxwell.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew. Her lawsuit said she still suffers significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.