With input from other members of the Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, it had already been decided Andrew could play no part in the Platinum Jubilee events. But when it was confirmed he would be facing the prospect of either a civil trial or an out-of-court settlement, it was decided he would have to participate as a “private citizen” rather than a prince of the realm.
The palace has always been a stickler for precedent and the decision to allow Andrew to retain his Dukedom and use his HRH in a private capacity echoes the treatment of Edward VIII following the abdication in 1936, and more recently, the Duke of Sussex.
Indeed, some could view the unequivocal and uncompromising nature of the announcement as a shot across the bows as Prince Harry prepares to release his autobiography in the northern autumn. (It is said the Queen has already been consulting lawyers ahead of the eagerly-anticipated publication by Penguin Random House).
It goes without saying Her Majesty will share her second, and some say favourite, son’s sense of distress over the way things have worked out.
Part of Andrew’s unpopularity was borne out of the fact it was always clear he enjoyed the trappings of his royal life – and wasn’t shy in asserting his authority as a rather over-pampered “blood” prince who grew up second-in-line to the throne. However, his closest allies hope that his new-found separation from the crown will finally give him the freedom he has so far lacked to fight these allegations.
“I genuinely believe that in the long run this will prove to be the Duke’s independence day,” said one. “It’s been almost impossible for him to do anything without worrying about damaging the monarchy, or his mother. This was really the only viable option available to him. If he has learnt anything from the past two years, it is that if you are a member of the Royal family falsely accused of heinous crimes, then it is almost impossible to clear your name.
“If he says nothing, he’s accused of hiding behind his mother’s skirts, and if he speaks out, he’s victim shaming. He now has the latitude to clear his name as a private citizen.”
The jury remains out on whether Andrew will actually opt for a courtroom showdown or go for the less exposing option of negotiating a settlement with Giuffre, however.
The 38-year-old mother of three claims Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in his New York mansion, in London, and on the late billionaire paedophile’s private island in the US Virgin Islands in 2001 when she was 17.
With the Duke having strenuously denied the claims since they first surfaced in 2015, it had been suggested that he would want to avoid a pay-off for fear it would imply guilt. Yet with his reputation shot to pieces – and his military affiliations and Royal patronages now removed – arguably he has little left to lose. Andrew’s friends are urging him to fight to clear his name in court, but it is a high stakes gamble, especially considering the burden of proof in civil cases is “on the balance of probabilities”.
Both options are potentially financially ruinous, with talk of any settlement already at $US5 million – some 10 times the amount Epstein paid Giuffre in 2009.
Andrew’s non-royal status may make it more difficult for the palace to justify the Queen contributing to his legal bills. And what happens to Andrew’s taxpayer-funded bodyguards now is anyone’s guess.
The rumblings of this sorry saga started just before the Diamond Jubilee, when the Duke made what he later admitted was an “ill-judged” decision to maintain an association with Epstein following his release from prison.
After a decade of allegation and innuendo, this crisis has reached its peak in the foothills of another Jubilee – an unprecedented milestone for the Queen as she fast approaches 96.
In removing the Andrew, Duke of York, the 95-year-old monarch has once again reminded her subjects that no one is bigger than the institution that she has stalwartly served for nearly seven decades.
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