Nearly two years after his infamously disastrous Newsnight interview about his relationship with convicted sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein, trouble continues to intensify for Prince Andrew, who—despite his best efforts—just can’t seem to weasel his way out of this one. Now he’s being sued in a New York court, and federal authorities would really like him to answer some questions.
When Epstein died by suicide in August 2019, attention turned to associates who were still alive, including Ghislaine Maxwell and Andrew. Andrew reportedly met Epstein through Maxwell, an old friend, and the three of them were friendly for years. He was even photographed in Central Park with Epstein in 2010, after Epstein pled guilty of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served his term. (Andrew now claims that he flew across the Atlantic Ocean specifically to break off the friendship—but he also stayed at Epstein’s house on the trip.) He lost a plum gig as UK trade envoy in 2011, after a round of critical newspaper coverage of Epstein, including the revelation that his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, had accepted £15,000 to cover one of her debts.
In 2015, Andrew was named in a civil case against Epstein, with Virginia Roberts Giuffre accusing Epstein of trafficking her to Andrew three times between 2001 and 2002, including once in New York. But still, Andrew—who has denied the accusations—largely managed to slither out from under the story. His public life imploded, however, in 2019, when a renewed focus on Epstein meant a renewed focus on Andrew, culminating in his disastrous attempt to “set the record straight” in an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program. His insistence that Guiffre’s account was patently untrue because she described him as sweaty, and his traumatic experiences in the short-lived Falklands War meant he spent years not sweating, failed to convince anybody of his innocence. He lost his public roles but was seemingly always hopeful of a comeback to the royal lineup.
Now, that comeback looks less likely than ever. On August 10, the Telegraph reported, accuser Giuffre filed a lawsuit under New York’s 2019 Child Victims Act, which provided a one-year window for victims who were previously barred from suing by the statute of limitations. (A window that was extended due to the pandemic.) “I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but one can reclaim her life by speaking out and demanding justice,” Giuffre said in a statement.
“He’s going to have a very difficult time when his deposition is taken, because now he’s got to answer questions under oath, subject to cross-examination and there will be lots of difficult questions,” Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, told the Telegraph; he also suggested they’ll present additional evidence. That seems like a fair assessment, considering he already made himself a thoroughly discredited international laughingstock during the Newsnight interview. Giuffre’s legal team has been attempting to serve Andrew with a summons—which isn’t a legal necessity so much as a piece of very strategic theater—but first, they have to run him to ground. The Sun reports that Prince Andrew has been essentially been hiding out, first at Balmoral and now on the expansive grounds of his home in Windsor, and security guards have stopped several attempts at serving the papers. (As of August 28, the Sun noted, Andrew hadn’t been seen in public for 19 days straight.)
The Sun also recently followed up with the Justice Department regarding last year’s mutual legal assistance request to the UK’s Home Office, an attempt to get Andrew to cooperate. They reported:
Following enquiries about the Duke, a US government official said: “The US and the UK have a close, productive and resilient law enforcement and mutual legal assistance relationship.
“We remain in close contact on many active cases on a daily basis and will continue to seek assistance in criminal matters as we provide similar assistance in return.”
Earlier this month, a source told Reuters that Prince Andrew was a “person of interest” in the Epstein probe, but investigators weren’t holding their breath on his willing cooperation. He basically can’t visit America, though.
Andrew’s options are narrowing. He has 21 days from Giuffre’s filing to respond to the suit or he’ll face a default judgment, in which the court rules on behalf of Giuffre by default. What a New York civil court can manage to collect much of anything from Andrew is an open question, but even if Giuffre never gets a dollar out of him, it’s another series of nails into the coffin of his public reputation—and this is a man who has always cared about the deference due to him. And as for his official royal duties, a source “close to Charles” told the Times that “in the prince’s mind ... a way back for the duke is demonstrably not possible.”
Assessing his situation, a London PR exec told the Times: “It’s worse than Tiger Woods, worse than Kevin Spacey and worse than Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky—put together.”