LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II will mark 70 years on the throne in February, a milestone unmatched by any British sovereign and an opportunity to show the web page on three years of ceaseless turmoil within the royal household. However a sexual-abuse lawsuit unfolding in a Manhattan courtroom may but spoil her celebration.
On Tuesday, legal professionals for the queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, requested a federal decide to throw out a lawsuit by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, wherein she claims that Andrew, a buddy of the late financier and convicted intercourse offender Jeffrey Epstein, raped her when she was 17.
It was the most recent in a skein of authorized maneuvers by the prince’s legal professionals to defuse Ms. Giuffre’s case. Whereas the decide, Lewis A. Kaplan, didn’t instantly rule on the movement, leaving Andrew’s authorized destiny unsettled for now, the listening to dramatized the shadow that the 61-year-old prince nonetheless casts over his household.
If the decide permits the case to go ahead, Andrew may face damaging testimony from Ms. Giuffre about his alleged abuse of her at Mr. Epstein’s residences in New York and within the Caribbean. That might plunge the Home of Windsor again into scandal on the very second it hopes to make use of the Platinum Jubilee to remind Britons of the queen’s extraordinary longevity and largely blemish-free document of service.
The 70-minute listening to gave a glimpse into the sorts of points that would spill out in a protracted trial. At one level, Prince Andrew’s lead lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, argued that Ms. Giuffre had not been particular in her allegations towards him. Choose Kaplan replied that she claimed she had been subjected to “involuntary sexual activity” and requested what was not clear about that.
“If the case drags on and on and on, sure, it is going to be a thorn within the aspect of the Platinum Jubilee,” stated Dickie Arbiter, who served as a press secretary to the queen from 1988 to 2000. Past the fraught points raised in that case, he stated, had been the lingering questions stirred by the rift between the household and Prince Harry and his American-born spouse, Meghan.
Harry, the queen’s grandson, plans to publish a memoir late in 2022, which has unsettled folks across the royal household who worry additional unflattering particulars about what the estranged prince and Meghan have claimed was callous and racist remedy by the hands of members of the royal household.
Andrew’s woes, against this, are largely of his personal making, royal watchers level out, the product of his affiliation with the disgraced Mr. Epstein and one other buddy, Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last week of conspiring with Mr. Epstein to recruit, groom and abuse underage ladies. Ms. Giuffre contends that she was amongst these victims; Andrew denies her declare that she was trafficked to him.
The queen has already largely banished Andrew from public life, a course of that gained momentum after a calamitous interview he gave the BBC in November 2019, wherein he tried to elucidate his friendship with Mr. Epstein and denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, saying he had no reminiscence of assembly Ms. Giuffre. He now not seems at public occasions, and even army ceremonies, and the British media’s protection of him is uniformly scathing.
When photographers seize Andrew’s picture — typically on the wheel of a automotive coming or going to go to his mom — he seems a graying, weary shadow of the once-dashing helicopter pilot who beguiled the nation along with his service within the Falklands Conflict and his busy bachelorhood.
“My intestine feeling is that most individuals have misplaced curiosity in him,” stated Penny Junor, a royal historian. “He’s boastful and never significantly common. Since he’s gone previous center age, there’s been a common sense of ‘what’s he for?’”
In a single respect, nevertheless, Andrew may stay a lingering drawback, Ms. Junor stated. The queen has not stripped him of his honorary army titles, a few of which he inherited from his father, Prince Philip, who died final yr. That has prompted objections from veterans, who say it’s unseemly to be below the command of an individual going through such allegations.
Julian Perreira, a former sergeant within the Grenadier Guards who served in Afghanistan, instructed The Occasions of London final week, “Being allowed to retain his function as colonel of the Grenadier Guards and different army titles, Prince Andrew will put a stain on the regiment’s proud historical past and can devalue the laborious work of previous and future generations of Grenadiers. He should step down instantly.”
Prince Harry was stripped of his honorary army titles — in addition to the suitable to make use of the honorific His Royal Highness — after he and Meghan stepped again from official duties and moved to Southern California.
For Andrew to retain his titles, even whereas being accused of sexual misconduct, strikes some in Britain as the last word illustration of a double customary for privileged members of the royal household. It could be all however unattainable to defend if he’s discovered responsible of abusing an underage lady.
Andrew’s fame, critics say, has not been helped by his authorized maneuvering. Quite than confronting the allegations immediately, the prince scrambled to keep away from being served with authorized papers in Britain. His legal professionals have tried to get the case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and, most just lately, on the premise of a settlement settlement between Ms. Giuffre and Mr. Epstein.
Beneath the phrases of that 2009 settlement, unsealed on Monday, Mr. Epstein paid Ms. Giuffre $500,000 to resolve a lawsuit wherein she accused him of sexually abusing her when she was an adolescent. Ms. Giuffre, in flip, agreed to launch Mr. Epstein and different “potential defendants” from additional litigation, a class that Andrew’s legal professionals stated included him.
However Ms. Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, argued in courtroom that Andrew was not a goal of the allegations of sexual trafficking made by Ms. Giuffre in 2009. Therefore, he isn’t protected below the phrases of the settlement. “He was somebody to whom the women had been trafficked,” Mr. Boies instructed the decide. “He’s not a possible defendant.”
Whereas Choose Kaplan didn’t point out how he was leaning in whether or not to dismiss the case, he pointedly allowed the method of gathering proof to proceed. That may maintain the authorized strain on Andrew. And it’ll make for a tense begin to the Platinum Jubilee yr for the queen, who has already been struggling with health problems which have saved her out of public view since October.
The queen, royal watchers word, has been steadfast in her affection for Andrew, whilst his public fame has withered. Having gone together with sidelining her son — a step that was pushed by her eldest son and inheritor, Prince Charles — some doubt that she would strip Andrew of his titles.
“The queen offers and the queen takes away, however she’d most likely be reluctant to take this away as a result of that’s all he bought left,” Mr. Arbiter stated. “She is the pinnacle of state and head of the nation, however on the finish of the day, she’s additionally his mom.”