As media interest in the allegations against Prince Andrew intesifies, Buckingham Palace finally took action today with mild disciplinary measures agtainst the accused sexual predator.
According to an announcement issued on Thursday the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth has been stripped of his military titles and charities.
The news is being interpeted as an indication that the Queen and family will no support or defend Andrew as Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against him goes to trial.
Giuffre alleges that she was forced into sex slavery by the infamous predator Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have intercourse with Andrew when she was just 17.
“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” today’s statement reads.
“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
The statement goes on to clarify that Andrew will not have his titles returned to him, no matter the outcome of the trial.
“All of the Duke’s roles have been handed back to the Queen with immediate effect for redistribution to other members of the Royal Family,” says a palace spokesperson.
“For clarity, they will not return to The Duke of York.”
While this may seem like a half-measure — Andrew is still a prince, after all, and no one in his family has come out to condemn his actions — it’s significant in that it’s the first indication the royals have given that they believe Andrew is not 100 percent innocent.
It’s also the latest in a long line of setbacks for Andrew.
On Wednesday, a judge denied Andrew’s request to throw Giuffre’s case out of court on a series of technicalities.
“Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous,’” said Judge Lewis Kaplan, throwing Andrew’s attorneys own words back at them.
The judge also ruled that a 2009 settlement, in which Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop charges against him, could not be used to protect Andrew from legal action.
Andrew has been served with a subpoena, but it remains unclear if he’ll show up in court.
There’s no extradition for civil suits, so it’s possible that he’ll simply remain in the UK and allow the case to be decided in his absence.
The best way for him to avoid additional negative press would be to offer a cash settlement, but as The Daily Beast points out, Andrew might not be in a position to do so.
While the exact state of his finances is uncertain, it’s clear that he’s less well-off than most members of his wealthy family.
As a wedding present from his mother was given a palace, Sunninghill Park, which he proceeded to sell to a Kazakh billionaire in a highly suspicious deal.
The money from that sale is believed to have gone toward the purchase $22 million Swiss ski chalet, which Andrew is now in talks to sell, reportedly for a fraction of the original price.
Insiders say Andrew and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson have only about $4 million equity in the property.
If he’s unable to settle, Andrew will be forced to either fight the case or refuse to participate in any way, which would result in a default judgment.
Default judgments against non-US citizens are notoriously difficult to collect, but this option would be devastating to Andrew’s reputation and future prospects.
“I just don’t think he will do that. The consequences would be just too severe,” says a source close to Giuffre.
“Can you imagine a situation where the king’s brother is a debt fugitive? He would never be able to own anything again for the rest of his life,” the insider adds.
“If there is a trial, and he loses, and whatever amount the judge awards–maybe it gets paid and maybe it doesn’t—at least it is over with, it is behind them. If he defaults it goes on forever.”
Whatever the case, Andrew’s outlook is rather bleak indeed.
And it sounds as though his family is planning to continue distancing themselves from the royal black sheep.