According to a statement from The Royal Family, the Queen of England has revoked Prince Andrew’s military affiliations and Royal patronages.
“The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen with The Queen’s approval and agreement.” The Duke of York will continue to abstain from public service and will defend this case as a private citizen.”
The news comes after a judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Britain’s Prince Andrew by an American woman who claims he sexually abused her when she was 17 years old.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected an argument by Andrew’s lawyers on Wednesday that Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit should be dismissed at an early stage because of an old legal settlement she had with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier she claims set up sexual encounters with the prince.
According to Kaplan, the $500,000 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre did not involve the prince and does not preclude a future suit against him.
Giuffre sued Andrew, 61, in August, alleging that Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, coerced her into sexual encounters with him in 2001. Giuffre claimed Andrew sexually abused her at Maxwell’s London home, Epstein’s New York mansion, and his estate in the United States Virgin Islands.
Andrew’s lawyers had claimed that the lawsuit lacked specificity and was barred by the settlement she reached with Epstein’s lawyers in 2009. They also questioned Giuffre’s credibility and motivations, claiming in October that the lawsuit was intended to obtain “another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him.”
Giuffre’s complaint, according to Kaplan, is neither “unintelligible,” “vague,” or “ambiguous.”
“It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in specific circumstances at three distinct locations.” It specifies who is to blame for the sexual abuse,” he wrote.
The judge cited facts alleged by Giuffre in his ruling, including Epstein and Maxwell attending the prince’s 40th birthday party in 2000 and Andrew inviting Epstein to his daughter’s 18th birthday party in 2006, a month after Florida state prosecutors charged Epstein with procuring a minor for prostitution.
According to the prince’s lawyers, Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre and “unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”
The prince has categorically denied Giuffre’s allegations. Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight in late 2019 that sex with Giuffre “didn’t happen” and that he has “no recollection” of ever meeting her. His statements prompted critics to accuse him of being insensitive to Epstein’s victims. Following that, the prince withdrew from royal duties.
His attorneys did not respond to messages seeking comment on Wednesday. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the “ongoing legal matter,” according to The Associated Press.
In a statement, Giuffre’s attorney, Sigrid McCawley, said that Kaplan’s decision “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 Queen Elizabeth II can move on without more scandalous headlines undermining the monarchy and tainting every member of the royal family, according to Mark Stephens, an international law specialist at Howard Kennedy in London.
According to Stephens, Wednesday’s ruling means that the process of delaying every technical point available to them as a matter of law has effectively concluded. Despite Andrew’s likely appeal, the case will proceed, and he will face the humiliation of having to testify about his alleged activities with a 17-year-old.
“The practical realities of this position have wrapped a noose around Prince Andrew’s neck,” Stephens explained. “He has to make a decision. He has to get out. Or he’s a walking corpse.”
At this stage of the litigation, Kaplan was required by law to assume Giuffre’s allegations are true, even though the prince’s lawyers could cast doubt on the claims at trial. A trial, according to the judge, will not take place until late this year at the earliest. Before that, the prince and Giuffre would make their deposits.
Giuffre’s settlement with Epstein was reached a decade before the 66-year-old financier committed suicide in a Manhattan federal lockup in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial, more than a decade after Florida federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute him. His attorneys claimed that the Florida agreement prevented the New York charges from being filed.
Similarly, Andrew’s lawyers cited language in Epstein’s recently unsealed $500,000 settlement with Giuffre that stated her claims against “potential defendants” were also barred by the agreement.
However, according to Kaplan, there were significant indications in the settlement that Epstein and Giuffre did not clearly intend to “directly,” “primarily,” or “substantially” benefit someone like the prince. He pointed out that the prince was not a signatory to the agreement.
In addition, he stated that the agreement was “far from a model of clear and precise drafting.”
The judge’s findings mirrored comments he made during oral arguments by both sides, during which he was particularly dismissive of the arguments made on behalf of the prince.
Epstein died more than two years before his former girlfriend, Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in federal court in Manhattan. Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew were not included in the criminal prosecutions of Epstein or Maxwell.
Giuffre claimed she met Andrew while traveling with Epstein frequently between 2000 and 2002, when her lawyers claim she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew. According to her lawsuit, she continues to suffer significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.
The Associated Press usually does not identify people who claim to be victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has.