Prince Andrew 'must be held accountable' says accuser, as Queen exiles him from royal life

·7 min read
Prince Andrew, in the rear seat, with Gary Bloxsome, his London-based lawyer, in the passenger seat as they are driven to Windsor Castle on Thursday morning - Kelvin Bruce
Prince Andrew, in the rear seat, with Gary Bloxsome, his London-based lawyer, in the passenger seat as they are driven to Windsor Castle on Thursday morning - Kelvin Bruce

The Duke of York "must be held accountable" his accuser has said this morning after he was stripped of all military titles and patronages by the Queen.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre praised a court ruling enabling her civil sex case against Prince Andrew to proceed to trial, saying she was "pleased" with the ruling and the chance to "expose the truth".

She said: "Their determination helps me seek justice from those who hurt me and so many others. My goal has always been to show that the rich and powerful are not above the law & must be held accountable."

It comes after Prince Andrew agreed to no longer use his HRH title, in an attempt to protect the Royal family from the fallout of the sexual abuse case.

The Duke, 61, was summoned to Windsor Castle for a 45-minute meeting with his mother, amid increasing speculation that he will have to pay off Ms Giuffre.

However, the Duke insisted he would continue to defend the civil case, related to his friendship with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, as a "private citizen" – declaring it a "marathon not a sprint".

The case will see British witnesses deposed by Ms Guiffre's legal team, with speculation that the Duke's ex-wife, the Duchess of York, and eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice, could be asked to give evidence.

It is understood that the Queen's decision was taken following lengthy discussions between Her Majesty, 95, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.

Regardless of whether there is a trial or a settlement, the legal process is likely to be extremely embarrassing for the Royal family. It is thought this development is an attempt to shield the Royal family, and leaves no way back to a public role for the Queen’s second son, with all official ties severed, leaving him in a form of internal exile.

The unprecedented move represents the second time in just two years that a senior royal, born as an HRH, has been asked not to use the title in an official capacity, following the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to the US.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman issued the following statement:

The statement issued by Buckingham Palace - Buckingham Palace
The statement issued by Buckingham Palace - Buckingham Palace

A royal source said all of the Duke’s roles had been handed back to the Queen with immediate effect for redistribution to other members of the Royal family. They will not be returned to the Duke.

Prince Andrew will no longer use the style “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity.

The Duke is accused of raping or sexually assaulting Ms Guiffre on three separate occasions when she was 17, after she was trafficked by Epstein.

An attempt to have the case dismissed on a technicality was on Wednesday rejected by a New York judge, leaving the Duke facing the prospect of a trial by jury.

Judge Lewis Kaplan unequivocally denied the Duke’s motion, handing down a 46-page ruling that contained a point-by-point rebuttal of his arguments.

A source close to the Duke said: “Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling.

“However, it was not a judgment on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s allegations. This is a marathon not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims.”

On Thursday, Ms Giuffre broke her silence on Wednesday's ruling, saying it reaffirmed her goal to show that the “rich and powerful are not above the law”.

She tweeted: "I’m pleased with Judge Kaplan’s ruling yesterday that allows my case against Prince Andrew to go forward."

“I do not walk this path alone, but alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking,” she added.

The Duke had until now clung onto his honorary military titles, including the coveted Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, despite pressure from senior military figures.

As a former member of the Armed Forces, the Duke - who served in the Royal Navy - retains his current military rank of Vice-Admiral.

He also remains ninth in line to the throne and as such is still a Counsellor of State - a role undertaken by any spouse of the monarch and the next four adults in the line of succession. They are currently Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.

In the event that the Queen cannot undertake her official duties as sovereign on a temporary basis due to illness or absence abroad, two or more Counsellors of State are appointed by Letters Patent to act in her place.

The Duke of York, pictured with the Queen at Trooping the Colour in 2018, had a 45-minute meeting with the monarch on Thursday - Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images
The Duke of York, pictured with the Queen at Trooping the Colour in 2018, had a 45-minute meeting with the monarch on Thursday - Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

The Duke appeared stony faced as he was driven from his home, Royal Lodge, to nearby Windsor Castle in a Range Rover at around 11.40am on Thursday. Gary Bloxsome, his London-based lawyer, was in the passenger seat looking equally glum, but is not believed to have joined the Duke inside.

Whether the Duke knew what the meeting would be about or thought the Queen wanted to discuss his legal options is not known.

They returned to Royal Lodge shortly before 1pm, four hours before the announcement was made by Buckingham Palace.

With his personal reputation now deemed beyond repair, the focus has shifted to ensuring that the Queen and the wider institution suffers no further humiliation from the scandal, particularly in the run-up to the Platinum Jubilee.

A letter signed by more than 150 Royal Navy, RAF and Army veterans was sent to Her Majesty just hours before the announcement was made, urging her to strip him of all ranks and titles within the Armed Forces.

“Were this any other senior military officer it is inconceivable that he would still be in post,” they wrote, in the letter issued by the pressure group Republic.

“Officers of the British Armed Forces must adhere to the very highest standards of probity, honesty and honourable conduct.

“These are standards which Prince Andrew has fallen well short of.”

However, the decision is understood to have been in the pipeline for several days, as senior members of the family discussed how best to defend themselves from the ongoing fallout from the legal case.

Although the Duke indicated that he was prepared to face a civil trial by jury in order to clear his name, he is facing increasing pressure from palace aides to settle, The Telegraph understands.

Senior members of the family, as well as high-ranking courtiers, have warned that he cannot risk allowing it to progress any further, urging him to draw a line under proceedings.

Ms Giuffre, 38, has sued the Duke for unspecified damages. He denies the claims and says he has no recollection of meeting her.

The legal situation is understood to remain “fluid”, with each side now heaping pressure on the other.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre is said not to be interested in a 'purely financial settlement' - PA Wire
Virginia Roberts Giuffre is said not to be interested in a 'purely financial settlement' - PA Wire

David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s feared and highly experienced counsel, “turned the screws” in an appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight, stating that she wanted the matter to be "resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims".

He added: “A purely financial settlement is not anything that I think she is interested in.”

But for the Duke, any acceptance of liability is off the table.

Those close to him concede that such demands will therefore either “drive the price up or drive it to court”. The latter, they also acknowledge, is an equally unpalatable option.

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