On 4 January, Prince Andrew’s lawyers stood in front of US Judge Lewis Kaplan and argued to have the sex abuse lawsuit against the royal dropped. They suggested that a condition in a $500,000 agreement between Virginia Giuffre, his accuser, and sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein protected him from getting sued.
The settlement stipulated that Giuffre would not be able to go after Jeffrey Epstein or ‘any person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant’ and the royal lawyers believe that that statement pertains to Prince Andrew as well.
Settling out of court?
At the end of the hearing, the judge announced that the parties would ‘soon’ know if the case would go to court or not. However, it looks like the Prince’s chances of having the lawsuit dismissed are pretty slim. The Independent reported that according to Mitchell Epner, a US former federal prosecutor, the Duke of York only has three options left—’settle, default, or go to court.’
An insider told Daily Mail that there is a high probability that his lawyers could ‘settle the case out of court’ to spare both the Prince and the royal family the embarrassment of a public trial. A source said:
A settlement would always be an option on the table, as that’s where the vast majority end up.
There is also the wider pressure and attritional impact to consider.
Impact on the royal family
If the Prince decides to head into trial to prove his innocence against the horrific sexual abuse allegations, it could very well put a damper on the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.
The Queen will be marking 70 years as the ruler of England this February, and the country is expected to have four-day celebrations to commemorate the occasion in June. Many royal experts have said that Prince Andrew’s dark controversy may cast a shadow on what was supposed to be an eventful year for the monarch. Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine told The Guardian:
2022 is going to be a year of mixed blessings for her, I think.
Clearly, there are various clouds on the horizon, the Duke of York perhaps being the biggest at the moment.
In November, Judge Kaplan announced that if the trial should proceed, it will likely take place between September and December 2022.