The trial is a devastating blow for Prince Andrew – and the royal family | Prince Andrew

The New York court’s decision that the civil sexual assault case against the Duke of York will proceed is a devastating blow to Prince Andrew and the Royal Family after more than a decade of allegations and insinuations .

Aside from any appeal Prince Andrew may be able to mount against Wednesday’s decision, he faces the ignominious prospect of having to testify in a sexual assault trial and face cross-examination on aspects of his private life. to clear his name. Win or lose, this is an unprecedented chapter in the modern history of the royal family.

One option to avoid this uncomfortable scenario would be to reach a settlement, although such is the momentum of this case around the world, it seems unlikely that it can satisfactorily rehabilitate its reputation.

Ever since Andrew was photographed in 2010 in New York’s Central Park with sex offender and wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, the Duke’s public image has been tarnished by association. When, in 2011, the photo of Andrew with his arm around the waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts emerged, it damned him even more in the court of public opinion.

But it was in 2015 that Roberts, now Giuffre, first alleged in legal papers that she was forced to have sex with the prince – at Epstein’s New York mansion, on his private island in the US Virgin Islands and Maxwell’s home in London.

Since then, all of Andrew’s attempts to fight the allegations – which he vehemently denies – while trying to avoid a courtroom confrontation, have failed.

Her 2019 Newsnight interview, a high-stakes ploy, was widely derided as a car accident and soured her public reputation. This has led the Queen to make the firm and swift decision that her second son must step down from royal duties and from her [email protected] entrepreneurial initiative.

Aside from any appeal of Judge Lewis Kaplan’s ruling, Andrew now faces the “discovery” phase, which involves taking depositions.

“This will involve witnesses from both sides being interviewed by the opposing legal team in the presence of their own legal team and either in the presence of a court reporter to take a verbatim transcript, or with the interview videotaped” for the court filing,'” said Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at Ince.

“It would be possible to have Prince Andrew deposed [interviewed] in the UK, so he would not need to travel to New York for his deposition.

“If the case progresses to a trial, I think the prince would be under enormous pressure to appear in person if he wants to testify in his defence. He can, of course, refuse to appear, and I’m sure that he cannot be compelled to appear. I think it is unlikely that he will be allowed to appear at a trial via remote video link, and in any event, from a presentation point of view, it does not wouldn’t look good.

Another option, as unappealing as it may be for Andrew, would be to stop the whole process by reaching a settlement with Giuffre. “If he can’t have it struck out, he has a choice to present it at trial and face the consequences of a verdict, which may or may not go in his favor. Or settle the case on the best terms available and achieve certainty by resolving the case without having to appear, ending this process, perhaps unsatisfactorily, but ending the legal process,” Goldstone said. .

“I think this story has now grown so big that it’s a tough case to settle with him having a future public life,” he added.

Ever since the Newsnight interview, which backfired so dramatically, Buckingham Palace has sought to put some space between the institution of the monarchy and Andrew’s legal woes. Questions about the case are regularly forwarded to Andrew’s legal representatives, with the Queen’s aides refusing to comment.

Andrew may have no current role in public life and may never have one again, although he harbors hopes that his reputation can be repaired. But he is still a member of the royal family, and as such his presence at family events continues.

When the Duke of Edinburgh died and family members paid tribute in TV interviews, Andrew, with the Queen’s permission, was given a prominent role in the media. He visited her at Balmoral this summer and was photographed several times driving from her Windsor home to Windsor Castle to see her mother.

But the Queen turns 96 in April. Prince Charles and Prince William, the next two to the throne, will take a lot of the temperature of the nation’s mood reflected in Andrew’s fall in the polls, and both fear he may never play a part public. again – even if he manages to clear his name.

“The reputation of the Duke of York is so tarnished that if the case goes to trial and he wins, his rehabilitation would be minimal,” said Joe Little, editor of Majesty magazine.

“The only official evidence of the Queen’s support for her second son is that she agreed to him stepping down from his royal role at the end of 2019 as the crisis escalated. However, as Andrew’s mother, she continues to see him regularly at Windsor Castle, so the personal bond is clearly still in place,’ he added.

“The Queen, Charles and William, aware of the damage done to the institution of the monarchy, may need to take decisive action before things go from bad to worse.

“Official retirement as a member of the royal family, perhaps, and abandonment of military appointments and patronage.”

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