Prince Andrew appears to be turning on his own lawyers, with what looks very much like a series of briefings to the U.K. press saying he is unhappy with their strategy of simply trying to ignore and stonewall a U.S. civil lawsuit—and is holding “crisis talks” about firing them.
The U.K. law firm Blackfords did not return a request for comment from The Daily Beast, and Andrew’s spokesperson was also tight-lipped when asked about the veracity of reports by respected royal reporter Russell Myers of the Daily Mirror. Myers reports a source close to Andrew describing the legal strategy as “shambolic from the start,” and saying Andrew is “extremely worried.” The source adds: “The crisis talks are so he can get off the back foot. He knows he’s in a full-on crisis… the whole thing’s a disaster.”
The new briefings chime with stories this weekend, also reported by The Daily Beast’s newsletter The Royalist, that say the queen’s second son is now said to be “stressed” and “worried” about the suit being brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges that Andrew sexually abused her when she was 17.
The speculation over Andrew’s legal problems overshadowed an announcement Monday of the birth of his daughter Princess Beatrice’s first child. The baby was born on Saturday night, Bea said in a tweet.
So delighted to share the news of the safe arrival of our daughter on Saturday 18th September 2021, at 23.42, at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.
Thank you to the Midwife team and everyone at the hospital for their wonderful care.
— Princess Beatrice of York (@yorkiebea) September 20, 2021
Royal sources told the Telegraph that palace officials are “more than concerned” that Andrew’s strategy of attempting to hide from process servers was having “wider reputational implications for the institution of the monarchy,” adding “the legal team’s wall of silence and policy of evasion only adds to the impression [that] the duke has something to hide and there is widespread concern that things have been allowed to get to this point.”
If Andrew does not co-operate with the civil case being brought against him by Giuffre, he will likely have a default judgment entered against him. Lawyers have previously told The Daily Beast that authorities will likely never be able to extract any financial penalty from him.
However, while the monetary figure may end up only being notional and symbolic, the impact on the image of the royal family is already very real. The prospect of protracted legal wrangling overshadowing much of the rest of his life has led some legal experts to tell The Daily Beast they suspect he may ultimately choose to settle with Giuffre.
Andrew withdrew from public life after a disastrous 2019 BBC interview in which he denied any recollection of ever meeting Virginia Giuffre, despite a widely circulated photograph of them together. He offered an extraordinary alibi for the night he is alleged to have had sex with Giuffre in London, claiming he was getting pizza with his children. He also claimed to be unable to sweat, an assertion contradicted by many photos of him perspiring.
He has since been removed from all public duties, however his determination to stage a return to public life remains undimmed.
He popped up outside church on camera with a lengthy update about how his mother was coping just 48 hours after her husband died in April, and is to feature alongside his brothers and sister as a contributor in a new BBC documentary in which the royals pay tribute to the life of Prince Philip.
The Mirror reports that while Charles and William are reluctant to get involved with Andrew’s management of the case, they have “privately expressed disquiet.”
Last week, The Daily Beast was told by officers of the High Court in London that they had agreed to serve papers on Andrew on behalf of Giuffre, however, Andrew’s team are contesting the legitimacy of even that decision in an attempt to thwart the process.