What next for Prince Andrew after sex abuse case settlement?
Campaigners ask how Duke of York is funding payout to Virginia Roberts Giuffre and ‘substantial donation’ to victims’ rights charity
Prince Andrew has reportedly agreed to pay millions of pounds to settle the civil case brought against him in the US by Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
According to The Mirror, the Duke of York has avoided a “potentially explosive civil trial” with an out-of-court deal totalling £12m, including a “substantial donation” – thought to be about £2m – to Giuffre's charity Speak Out, Act, Reclaim, which supports sex abuse survivors.
In a federal court filing in New York this week, Andrew recognised that Giuffre “suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks”. He made no apology nor admission of liability, and has repeatedly denied allegations that he sexually abused Giuffre on three occasions when she was a teenager.
Public or private purse?
Questions are now being raised about how Andrew is funding the “substantial” payout. A statement included with the letter filed this week to US judge Lewis Kaplan, who has been overseeing the civil sex claim, stated that the total settlement sum was “not being disclosed”.
But amid reports that the deal exceeds £10m, campaigners are demanding to know whether the money will be coming from the public or private purse.
The Duke of York’s finances are “famously opaque”, said the i news site. He receives a £20,000 Royal Navy pension and a £250,000 annual stipend from the Queen’s Duchy of Lancaster income, but his lifestyle has exceeded his expected income over the years.
The Times reported last year that a Conservative Party donor had cleared a £1.5m debt that Andrew owed to a private bank in Luxembourg. Leaked documents showed that in 2015, the royal was “borrowing an average of £125,000 every three months from a credit facility” offered by Banque Havilland, owned by Tory donor David Rowland, who was said to have then cleared the debt “in its entirety”.
“‘Mysterious’ and ‘murky’ are words often used to describe the Duke of York’s financial affairs,” the paper added.
In recent months, Andrew has been completing the sale of his only known asset, a seven-bedroom chalet in the Swiss village of Verbier that he bought with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in 2014. The duke and duchess put the property on the market after being sued by the previous owner, Isabelle de Rouvre, “a French socialite who alleged that they owed her £6.7m from the £16.6m sale”, said The Telegraph.
Andrew is reported to have agreed a £17.5m deal with a buyer for the chalet, which costs up to £22,000 a week to rent. The proceeds were expected to be used by the royal to settle his lawsuit with de Rouve, but speculation is rife that the cash may be used to cover his Giuffre payout instead.
The Queen has already privately funded her son’s legal fight with Giuffre “to the tune of millions of pounds”, said the newspaper, which reported that the monarch will “partly” help him to pay for the out-of-court settlement.
The Queen draws more than £20m a year from the Duchy of Lancaster and is reported to have a personal net worth of about £380m.
‘Look to a private life’
Along with his finances, a question mark also remains over that role that Andrew will play in public life going forward.
The duke has already lost his royal patronages and his military and HRH titles as a result of the legal case against him. And pressure is mounting for him to step down from all public responsibilities.
“I think really he should look to a private life and enjoy essentially what is a very good privileged lifestyle,” former Royal Navy officer Chris Parry, who was Andrew's flight commander, told the BBC. “But I think he should stay out of the public eye.”
The duke is due to appear in public alongside the Queen and other members of the royal family on 29 March, at a Westminster Abbey service commemorating the Duke of Edinburgh’s death. But after that, he has no public appearances planned and is not involved in any of the celebrations marking his mother’s Platinum Jubilee.
“It has been made clear that the public have heard enough about him and enough from him. They need to hear no more,” a source close to Andrew’s team told The Telegraph.
Even though Andrew’s civil case with Giuffre is over and he has avoided the “humiliation” of being interviewed under oath, his road back to official royal status “remains barred forever”, wrote royal expert Jennie Bond in an article for The Mirror.
“The fact is that Prince Andrew will forever remain tarnished by more than a decade of speculation about his friendship with a convicted paedophile.”