Out in the cold! All about Prince Andrew’s brutal exile from The Firm

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Prince Andrew's fall from grace has been swift and brutal. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Prince Andrew's fall from grace has been swift and brutal. (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Banned from the balcony, barred from public events, stripped of his title and patronages, and so thoroughly and absolutely shut out from the fold that he’s probably never going to find a way back in.

Prince Andrew’s fall from grace has been a long time coming and his final axing from the British royal family has been brutal. The last time someone was so practically banished from The Firm was when the queen’s uncle Edward abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson in the 1930s.

Of course, the reason for Andrew being kicked out is far more sordid than anything the royals have ever had to deal with.

A US judge recently ruled that one of the victims of convicted paedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein can pursue a civil case against the prince.

Virginia Giuffre can now take legal action against Andrew, who she’s accused of having sex with her while she was still a minor.

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)
Virginia Giuffre claims this 2001 photo of her with Andrew and Epstein's ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was taken on one of the nights he had sex with her. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)

Andrew has consistently denied her claims and tried all manner of legal avenues to prevent Virginia from pursuing legal action. But Judge Lewis Kaplan’s ruling put paid to any attempt to have the case thrown out.

The trial – if he and Virginia don’t settle out of court – will effectively thrust the life and sex habits of the 61-year-old father of Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice into the spotlight. It will also make the controversy caused by Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, leaving their royal roles look tame in comparison.

It’s for this reason that the queen acted with a decisiveness that came as no surprise to royal experts.

Palace sources say the “ruthless and swift” decision was widely discussed within the royal family with future heirs Prince Charles (73) and Prince William (39) being “instrumental” in the move to force Andrew out.

Her Majesty reportedly made up her mind straight after the judge announced his decision.

In a terse two-line statement Buckingham Palace announced the Duke of York will no longer have the right to use the title His Royal Highness and he’ll be stripped of all his military titles and patronages.

His roles will be handed back to the queen with immediate effect for redistribution to other members of the royal family.

The announcement also said he would be defending his sex abuse case, which is being held in the United States, “as a private citizen”.

The queen would likely also have been influenced by the recent guilty verdict of Epstein’s ex and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in providing and grooming the girls for the late financier’s pleasure.

 (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The queen has stripped her favourite son of his royal title and patronages. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

She also reportedly faced pressure from the military after 150 veterans wrote her a letter asking her to strip Andrew of his honorary military roles. They were “angry and upset”, they wrote in the letter, which was sent a day after Judge Kaplan’s ruling. “Were this any other senior military officer it is inconceivable that he would still be in post,” they wrote.

The letter would have been hugely embarrassing for the queen, royal author Penny Junor says. “The fact that they were demanding that titles be removed – that just becomes embarrassing and damaging to the queen because she is then seen as protecting her son.”

Andrew was reportedly summoned for a 90-minute meeting with his mother at Windsor Castle where he was joined by his lawyer, Gary Bloxsome, who drove him from his nearby home, the Royal Lodge.

This followed conversations she had with Prince Charles and Prince William, who both strongly pushed for Andrew’s removal from his royal role.

‘This is about the survival of the institution at all costs, always has been and always will be’
– Senior palace source

Norman Baker, a royal commentator and former government minister, put it more bluntly. “Andrew has well and truly been chucked under the royal bus. But the royal family could not escape the immense damage the case would do.”

Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary at the palace, agrees. Speaking to The Times in the UK, he said Her Majesty would be “very sad” about the decision to strip Andrew of his titles.

“But she is pragmatic. It is about protecting the interests of the institution. Andrew now is really out in the cold.”

There is “little doubt”, says Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace, that the case will impact the queen’s platinum jubilee this year, marking her record-breaking 70 years on the throne.

The legal action ramps up between May and July and the celebrations are set for June. “It will cast a horrid shadow over the jubilee celebrations this year and is bound to come as a major disappointment to the queen,” Nigel says “I feel very sorry for Her Majesty as she doesn’t need this,” commentator Phil Dampier says.

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)
Virginia Giuffre with a photo of her age 15 when she says convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein started abusing her. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)

“Having said that maybe she should have been more strict with him years ago and told him to be a lot more careful who he was friendly with.”

Although the final blow from his mom came now, the start to Andrew’s fall from grace happened in November 2019 when he announced he’d be “stepping back from public duties for the foreseeable future”.

This was following a disastrous BBC interview in which he refused to acknowledge his close ties with Epstein. He fumbled and blustered his way through, effectively turning public opinion against him.

According to a well-placed palace source, the queen and her advisers decided to follow “the same model of effective banishment” with Andrew as she had with Harry and Meghan.

‘They have taken this decision to insulate the institution from being hit by all the shrapnel that is flying around’
– Insider

“It follows the same model as the Sussex separation. The removal of titles and patronages means the institution can now legitimately say it is not involved.”

The decision would have pained the queen greatly, insiders say. “Andrew has always been her favourite son and he has never done anything wrong in her eyes,” says Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell.

Even when he was avoiding legal summons in the case last year he was accused of “hiding behind his mother’s skirt” when he fled the UK to join her in Balmoral in Scotland.

But at 95 the monarch is no fool, experts say. Her latest decision shows her steely resolve to protect the institution she represents and to preserve her legacy.

“She has the ability, when push comes to shove, to know what is best for the institution and will act in her role as head of state, not a mother,” says a highly placed royal source. “She loves Andrew and this doesn’t mean he is no longer her son. But a decision had to be made as it was overshadowing everything the family did and her forthcoming platinum jubilee. Everyone will be feeling very relieved he has finally been cut adrift.”

Now that he can’t dip into the royal purse, Andrew will have to find the funds to foot his mounting legal bills. His mother has refused to help and he’s said to be desperate for money.

(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)
Princess Eugenie (left) and her sister, Princess Beatrice, are fully supportive of their father during this difficult time. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alamy)

He recently put his Swiss ski chalet on the market. He was previously unable to sell the seven-bedroomed property, which boasts an indoor pool, as he hadn’t paid off the entire amount he owed to its previous owner, Isabella de Rouvre.

Andrew and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson (62) bought the property from the French socialite in 2014 with the agreement they’d pay it off in instalments.

In 2020 she launched a legal battle against them in a Swiss court claiming they hadn’t made their final instalment of £5 million (then about R100 million).

Andrew has since paid it off and is said to have found a mystery buyer in a deal worth £18 million (now about R378 million). Sarah, Eugenie and Beatrice and their partners were seen holidaying there this past New Year.

Andrew reportedly was on video calls with them every day while they were there, and his daughters fully support him. “It’s more about them being there for him and supporting him as opposed to questioning him about the case.”

THE CASE UP UNTIL NOW

In August last year Australian-American mother of three Virginia Guiffre filed a civil lawsuit in New York stating she was sexually assaulted by the prince three times in 2001 when she was 17.

She lists the locations of the assaults as London, New York and the US Virgin Isles.

She was trafficked and “lent out” by Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting sex abuse charges, and his then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, to their wealthy and famous friends, she told the court.

Andrew denied her allegations and says he doesn’t recall meeting her – despite a photo showing him with his arm around her at a party. He’s never disputed he was friends with Epstein and Maxwell but says he doesn’t know what went on in their homes.

The royal’s lawyers have called Virginia’s lawsuit “baseless” and accused her of seeking a payday. They argued that she signed away her right to sue in her 2009 settlement with Epstein, in which she received a $500 000 (then about R3,7 million) payout. She’d agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.

The duke’s lawyer, Andrew B Brettler, argued the royal was a “potential defendant” and so the case should be dropped. But Judge Kaplan disagreed saying the agreement “cannot be said” to benefit Andrew.

Virginia took to Twitter to express her delight at the verdict. “My goal has always been to show that the rich and powerful are not above the law and must be held accountable.“I do not walk this path alone, but alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking.”

THE ACTION IS ALREADY UNDER WAY

The formal process of exchanging information about witnesses and evidence, known as discovery, has started.

Judge Kaplan ordered both parties must disclose their expert witnesses by 13 May, and file a joint pre-trial proposal by 28 July. The pretrial element is similar to a trial but generally has the goal of seeing if the case can be resolved without going to trial.

If everything runs according to schedule, the actual trial will kick off in September in New York in front of a jury.

It’s not known if Andrew will appear in person – he can’t be forced because it’s a civil suit in a different country, not a criminal one.

He’s likely to be questioned about everything from his sexual partners to the minute details of his dealings with Epstein and Maxwell. He’ll also be grilled over his ability to sweat. Virginia claims he sweated heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, which the duke denied, saying he had a medical condition at the time that meant he couldn’t sweat. She wants him to prove his condition.

If Virginia wins, Andrew could be ordered to pay damages. He won’t have a criminal record because it’s a civil, not a criminal, case.

Andrew doesn't qualify for legal immunity as heads of state and diplomats do. “There’s nothing I can see in the law that would suggest that he would have any entitlement to immunity whatsoever, whether that be in civil or indeed in criminal matters,” says Craig Barker, a law professor at London South Bank University.

ANDREW’S LEGAL OPTIONS

Legal experts say things don’t look good for the royal. His legal options are:

Appeal the ruling 

He could file a motion of reconsideration asking Judge Kaplan to reconsider. Or he could go straight to the second circuit court of appeals, where it would be heard by a panel of judges.

Another option would be to go straight to the Supreme Court, which would then decide whether to hear the case. Filing for a dismissal He could seek to have the case dismissed by arguing it can’t be heard in a US federal court because both he and Virginia, who’s American but lives in Australia, are based abroad.

Out-of-court settlement

This seems the most likely course of action for the royal if he doesn’t want his private life thrust into the spotlight. It’s also the one most favoured in American court cases.

In this instance, both parties would reach a financial settlement, likely run into millions of dollars, and the case doesn’t go to trial. Virginia could also ask for an apology or an admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement. However, those close to her say she’s determined to go to trial.

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Andrew ignores it all, which means the court will rule in his absence with a judge branding him a sex abuser and ordering him to pay compensation. 

Andrew could ignore that too but would then spend the rest of his life being pursued by bailiffs. He wouldn’t go to jail because it’s a civil trial but he would have to pay the damages the court awards Virginia.

SOURCES: theguardian.com, mirror.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, dispatchlive.co.za, independent.co.uk, itv.comnity 

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