Despite facing his own troubles involving Jeffery Epstein and further implications that came with Ghislaine Maxwell’s trafficking convictions, Prince Andrew is pining for his old life back and says he expects to soon return to the public eye.
The Duke of York, 61 — who once hosted Maxwell at Buckingham Palace, where she even sat on a royal throne — was banned from his public duties over his friendship with the madam, who groomed and recruited young girls for the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The prince now faces a civil suit from Virginia Giuffre, who claims Maxwell and Epstein trafficked her and forced her to sleep with Andrew on three occasions when she was only 17.
Just this week, Andrew’s legal team tried to get the case thrown out, insisting that Giuffre is not a US resident and lives in Australia. The prince’s lawyers claim that would mean she lacks the ability to sue the royal in New York through “diversity jurisdiction,” which does not allow US citizens who live abroad to sue in federal court.
One of Giuffre’s attorneys, Sigrid McCawley, called the move “another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the serious case Virginia Giuffre has brought.”
A source who knows Andrew recently told the NY Post, “He would like to be back serving his country, carrying out his public duties, but this won’t be easy … having [the Giuffre] lawsuit dismissed will be one step towards that.”
Andrew is desperate to make a return to public life, especially as his mother, Queen Elizabeth, prepares to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next summer. He hopes that clearing his name will allow that to happen, according to sources who know him — and who believe it will be an uphill battle.
“We have to bear in mind that the Duke of York hasn’t been charged with anything and is innocent until found guilty,” Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, told The Post. “But there is no getting around the fact his reputation is badly tarnished, and in the process, it has also tarnished the institution of the monarchy. A lot of damage has been done.”
Bradley Simon, a former federal prosecutor in New York who now works as a defense attorney, told London newspaper the Telegraph that it would be “guilt by association” for Prince Andrew after Maxwell was convicted.
“Given the fact that people seem keen to distance themselves from the Duke of York, I’m inclined to think a lot of the patronages that he has lost may not be recovered, and there may be more [losses] to follow,” Little told The Post.
“My feeling is that more [patronages] would have gone had it not been a complicated process — particularly with his military patronages, as the Queen is the head of the armed forces. It’s complicated and delicate, and there are certain organizations keen not to rock the boat or upset her.”
But, Little added, “to my mind, there is really no going back for the Duke of York.”
Long known as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, Andrew is not believed to have joined her for Christmas lunch at Windsor Castle this year, after she decided to skip her usual Sandringham celebration over COVID concerns.
However, he has visited Her Majesty regularly. “He continues to be a source of comfort to her — although, at the same time, he is no doubt a considerable worry to her due to the situation he finds himself in,” Little said. “He is on hand to provide support to her, albeit in a personal capacity.”
It’s believed that Prince Charles, Andrew’s older brother and the heir to the throne, and his son Prince William were instrumental in the talks to remove Andrew from public life.
“It has been known for some time that Charles wants a slimline monarchy when he becomes king,” Little said. “Charles’ siblings — Anne and Edward, and [Edward’s wife Sophie] the Countess of Wessex — may still be needed, but that doesn’t mean that Andrew will be a part of it. Nor do I think … that [Andrew’s] daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, will become working members of the family. They’re now in their 30s and having got this far without being working royals.”
There is also the question of who exactly is paying for Andrew’s massive legal bills, as he has hired top LA legal firm Lavely & Singer to represent him in the Giuffre lawsuit.
According to the Times of London, Andrew receives around $323,000 a year from the Queen from her private funds, known as the privy purse. A retired naval man, he is entitled to an annual Royal Navy pension of just $26,000.
The Sunday Times reported that Andrew was selling his $23 million Swiss chalet to settle an unrelated “property lawsuit.”
All this — and the fact that Andrew no longer acts as a trade envoy for the UK — raises questions over how much money he actually has.
“The supposition is that the Queen is paying for Andrew’s legal bills. Clearly, it’s incredibly expensive, given the legal representation that he has. If the Queen is not paying, then who is? He hasn’t any great wealth,” Little said. “He is paid from the privy purse, not taxpayer-funded, so what comes from his mother is kept under wraps — but she must be providing financial support in some form.”
The Duke of York’s US-based legal team had been closely watching the Maxwell trial, during which the court heard that Andrew was among those who flew on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”
It was Maxwell, an old friend, who introduced the prince to Epstein in 1999. She also invited Andrew to her London home in March 2001, an occasion marked by the now-infamous photo that shows the royal with his arm around a then-teenaged Giuffre as Maxwell smirks in the background.
Maxwell is alleged to have told Giuffre the next day that she had done a “really good job” and made Andrew “really happy” after having had sex with him.
According to the Telegraph, sources close to Maxwell had suggested “that she would be prepared to give evidence on behalf of the Duke should she walk free. But the Duke will now have to try to distance himself from his old friend as he fights to salvage his own reputation.”
After the Maxwell convictions were announced, Giuffre tweeted, “I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”