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Prince Andrew “rues the day” he made an out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre, believing he lost his chance to clear his name, a friend of the disgraced prince has told The Daily Beast.
The friend added that Andrew was a “fighter” and suggested he would have likely been willing to take the case further, but agreed to the settlement under pressure from his family.
However, following his mother’s death, he now feels free from such obligations and is giving serious consideration to an attempt to reopen the case. Giuffre claimed Andrew had sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17 and being sexually trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein—accusations Andrew has always emphatically denied.
The friend said: “He always has been, and remains, adamant that he doesn’t remember ever even meeting Giuffre. Anyone who knows him knows he is a fighter. He settled with her because the family, including his mother, desperately wanted the jubilee celebrations to proceed smoothly, but now he rues the day he did it.”
Asked why he regretted the decision to settle with Giuffre—he paid her a reputed $14 million last year—the friend said, “He thinks things might have been different if he had stuck it out, and then he lost the chance to clear his name. Look at what happened with Alan Dershowitz.”
Dershowitz was accused of sexual assault by Giuffre in 2014, and she sued him for defamation after he called her a “complete, total liar.” But she dropped the case in November, saying she may have made a “mistake” in identifying him as someone she was forced to have sex with by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
The Daily Beast pointed out to the source that the withdrawal of Giuffre’s action against Dershowitz would hardly have come as a surprise to anyone who had followed the case, as, presumably, Andrew and his legal team would have. As far back as September 2021, for example, Dershowitz told this reporter in an email: “She dropped the claim that she had sex with me. I never met her or even heard of her until her lawyers pressured her to falsely accuse me.”
Indeed, it was a matter of public record that several parts of Giuffre’s long-running action against Dershowitz had already been withdrawn by the time Andrew settled in 2022, and, unlike her unsubstantiated claims about Dershowitz, there is a notorious photograph of Giuffre with Andrew, proving they had met.
Although Andrew’s supporters (including Ghislaine Maxwell) have tried to claim the photo is fake, it is widely considered genuine by all serious commentators, with new evidence about its authenticity emerging in recent weeks.
The friend maintained that the Dershowitz case was, regardless, a factor in Andrew’s current thinking.
The friend said that while they did not know the particulars of Andrew’s financial situation, it was widely assumed in his circle that his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth, had left him a significant sum of money. It has been reported that Andrew has been emboldened to consider attempting to reopen the settlement with Giuffre due to his improved financial situation.
However, the queen’s death has also changed the emotional calculation for Andrew, his friend said. Asked if the death of his mother was responsible for his apparent newfound wish to refute Giuffre’s claims, the friend said, “He made the settlement for her sake, so her death obviously changed things.”
The comments chime with other recent reports concerning Andrew’s alleged dissatisfaction with the deal he signed a year ago.
For example, the author Daphne Barak, who conducted a jailhouse interview with Ghislaine Maxwell, recently told Talk TV’s Jeremy Kyle Live, “I am very close to the people most close to [Andrew]… There is a feeling right now that he settled too quickly, he might have misunderstood that when he gave up the titles that they would not be given back to him. It’s a tough reality for him. If indeed he was forced to settle for something he didn’t do… is something that is being considered legally right now, that is something I can definitely confirm.”
Andrew does not have a media spokesperson at this time, and his solicitor did not respond to a request for comment.
Andrew has few social outlets but one that does remain is shooting parties. While he mostly now lives a quiet, almost reclusive life at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, he is thought to have spent several days and weekends over the winter season shooting at the grand estates of the friends who have continued to stand by him in recent years.
He was permitted to host his usual day’s shooting at Windsor by Charles, as has long been a tradition, and it would be unthinkable in aristocratic shooting circles to accept such hospitality without returning it.
While many people find the prince objectionable, arrogant, and boorish, he does have a coterie of fans who continue to “bathe in his presence,” as one sporting acquaintance (not a fan) previously described it to The Daily Beast.
The pheasant shooting season is drawing to a close at the end of this month and this could partly explain why Andrew might be looking with anxiety at the empty pages of his diary for the year ahead, and wondering if a new drive to reframe the narrative around the Giuffre case could unlock even a partial return to public life. He is likely to be visible at the coronation of his brother in May, but as things stand, this will likely be his last high-profile public royal engagement for many years.
There has been talk that he is trying to persuade Charles to allow to him to use his HRH title in private (Charles is not likely to sign off on this) and he has also dipped his toe back into the world of overseas schmoozing.
In November last year he jetted off to Bahrain, traveling on a private jet owned by a Swiss billionaire. The Sun reported that Andrew was on holiday as a “privately-funded” guest at a $10,000 a night resort paid for by the Bahrain royals.
“It’s hard to see that anything has actually changed in the past twelve months. If he wanted to man up, he has had plenty of opportunities to do so.”
— Nigel Cawthorne
Nigel Cawthorne, a biographer of Prince Andrew who wrote the book Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace told The Daily Beast: “If you look at his behavior generally, he has tried to dodge this for years. Back when Giuffre was trying to serve papers on him he hid behind mother’s skirts and refused that. Then he said he was going to cooperate with other victims and the authorities, but when he had the opportunity to do so, he didn’t do that either. Official requests for him to speak to the FBI have been made twice under the Mutual Legal Assistance program; both have been ignored.
“And then there is that famous photograph. It is obviously legit. So it’s hard to see that anything has actually changed in the past twelve months. If he wanted to man up, he has had plenty of opportunities to do so.”
Cawthorne suspects that Andrew’s true motivation in seeking to create a narrative that he could have beaten the charges had he not been pressured to fold is to neutralize any revelations contained in an expected memoir from Virginia Giuffre.
The vast majority of legal experts and commentators believe that Andrew would have no serious prospect of undoing the settlement with Giuffre in a court of law. Attorney Lisa Bloom who has represented several victims of Jeffrey Epstein has said that the chances of Andrew being able to overturn his settlement “were between no way no how.”
Andrew clearly wishes things were different. The reality is: They are not.