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Royal Family to ‘close ranks’ as Prince Andrew faces ‘two options’ to save reputation

Prince Andrew: Monarchy only care about reputation says Thorp

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The Royal Family cannot be “tainted” by Prince Andrew’s accusations of sexual abuse, claims royal commentator Sarah Vine. Following the filing of civil case against the Duke, he must either “confront these claims” in an attempt to salvage his reputation, or “skulk around in the shadows” and resign from all aspects of public life. A former victim of Jeffrey Epstein filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, accusing the prince of sexual abuse on three occasions. 

Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine said: “I think Andrew basically has two options here.

“One, he hides behind wealth and palace walls but that means he can never have any form of public life ever again and will just have to skulk around in the shadows, or he can call her bluff and actually confront these claims in an open way and answer the accusations against him.

“If it’s true that he’s not guilty of anything, then presumably he’ll be cleared and he can be vindicated and go back to public life.

“I think he does need to either lance the boil as it were, or become an even bigger boil. I think those are the two choices that face him.”

So far, both Prince Andrew and Buckingham Palace have declined to comment on the situation and are yet to release any response to the lawsuit’s claims. 

When asked about the response of the Royal Family, Sarah Vine said: “I think in terms of the Royal Family, there comes a point where the reputation of the Royal Family is greater than the reputation of any one member of the family, and I think they will close ranks.

“They have to protect their brand, they can’t have it tainted by this. I think there’s a limit to this.

“It was interesting what Charles said, the Queen is fantastic and wonderful but she is very old and Charles is next in line.

“It may be he is slightly signalling to his brother that he isn’t going to be as forgiving as his mother is currently being.”

Prince Andrew is currently at Balmoral with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and the Queen, where he is believed to be holding crisis meetings to deal with the lawsuit fallout. 

Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed the civil case under New York’s Child Victims Act. She is seeking damages for the “significant emotional and psychological distress and harm” caused by the Duke’s actions. 

The case alleges that on three occasions, Prince Andrew sexually abused Ms Giuffre at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and Little St James in the US Virgin Islands.

Ms Guiffre is claiming that Prince Andrew did so in full awareness of her young age. At the time, Ms Giuffre was 17 years old, whilst the legal age of consent in the US Virgin Islands is 18. 

Her lawyers said “Twenty years ago Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”

Prince Andrew has consistently denied all claims made against him, telling BBC journalist Emily Maitlis in 2019: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

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Ms Giuffre was one of the many women who came forward in 2019 to reveal the extent of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, which led to his arrest.

The Duke of York had befriended Epstein in the early 1990s after they were introduced through the British socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell. 

They remained friends after Epstein’s first conviction in 2008 for child prostitution, with the prince later terminating their relationship after public backlash. 

In 2019, he appeared in an interview with BBC Newsnight where he spoke about his friendship with the disgraced financier and denied having any knowledge of his criminality. 

The interview was deemed a ‘car crash’ and Prince Andrew released the following statement: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

Shortly after the airing of the interview, Prince Andrew resigned from his public duties and ceased to represent the Queen during formal engagements. 

 

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