Prince Andrew's Status As 'His Royal Highness' Threatened by Epstein Lawsuit, Author Says

Prince Andrew's hopes of a return to public life could be shattered and his "His Royal Highness" (HRH) status left "doubtful" because of a Jeffrey Epstein-related lawsuit, a biographer says.

The Duke of York is being sued for sexual assault and battery by Virginia Giuffre whose court filing accuses him of abuse while she was 17 years old.

Court filings submitted in New York on Monday say she was made to have sex with Queen Elizabeth II's son and feared for her life if she did not cooperate.

Prince Andrew has yet to respond to the lawsuit brought Monday but if he does not engage with the court, it could rule against him in his absence.

The case was brought in New York under civil law, meaning Prince Andrew faces no risk of extradition or imprisonment from this lawsuit.

The legal action comes after a source close to Andrew's team in October 2020 told Newsweek he wanted to return to public life.

Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace, said: "Giuffre's lawsuit will preclude a return to public duties. It is very difficult to see how Prince Andrew can return to the frontline of the monarchy while a suit is pending, or with a verdict against him passed in absentia."

He added: "There are too many legal questions surrounding the prince and it is increasingly doubtful that he can hold on to his HRH status."

Prince Andrew is still styled as "His Royal Highness" on the royal family's official website, despite the fact Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had to agree not to use the styling after quitting royal duties.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have each had their "HRH" removed from their entries on the royal family's website.

Prince Andrew stepped back from public life after a car crash interview in November 2019 in which he failed to say he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein based on the connections it opened up for him.

In the aftermath, he offered to help law enforcement with their investigations but was drawn into a war of words with the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) after a formal request for evidence from the latter was submitted to the U.K. Home Office.

He was accused of failing to cooperate while his own lawyers said he had offered to give a statement.

A filing by Giuffre's lawyer reads: "Prince Andrew has refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities. Former SDNY U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated that Prince Andrew had provided 'zero co-operation' despite U.S. prosecutors and the FBI contacting Prince Andrew's counsel.

"Prince Andrew and his counsel have also refused to cooperate with counsel for the victims of Epstein's sex trafficking.

"Counsel for the victims of Epstein's sex trafficking, including counsel for [Giuffre], have repeatedly asked for a meeting or telephone call with Prince Andrew and/or his representatives to enable Prince Andrew to provide whatever facts, context, or explanation he might have, and to explore alternative dispute resolution approaches."

Cawthorne said: "The USA already has an outstanding MLAT [legal assistance] request endorsed by both then President [Donald] Trump and then Attorney General [Bill] Barr.

"This was for his testimony as a witness to the FBI and the Prince has still not clarified whether he has given this testimony."

Arick Fudali, of New York-based The Bloom Firm, which represents nine alleged Epstein victims, raised the prospect on Tuesday that Prince Andrew's U.K. residency might frustrate efforts to serve him with court documents.

Asked whether the duke had to be served in person for the case to go ahead, Fudali told BBC Radio 4: "Technically yes, it's a bit antiquated but yes we still have to have personal service typically on defendants in the U.S.

"There are some ways around that, for instance I think there's a way you could potentially serve a representative or there's something called service by publication. But for the most part he's going to have to be served personally."

As he quit public life, Prince Andrew said in a 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."

In a November 2019 BBC interview he was asked by Emily Maitlis whether he regretted his friendship with Epstein.

The duke replied: "Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.

"He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren't that close. So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him."

In October, a source close to Prince Andrew's team told Newsweek: "It is his intention to return to public duties but none of this can seriously progress until the legal process in the U.S. has been resolved and the Duke's side of the story has been properly explained."

In Focus

Prince Andrew Sued Over Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew has been sued by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.
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