Peter Hunt

Prince Andrew has no good options

There are reports of a change of strategy

(Getty)

It’s not a good look, aged 61, to be hiding behind your mother. The ninth in line to the throne joined the Queen at Balmoral, making it difficult for papers to be served in the Virginia Giuffre civil case. The Aberdeenshire estate may cover 50,000 acres, but it hasn’t provided refuge — a state of being that has eluded Andrew for the past six years.

The Queen’s favourite son (and one of her blind spots) has a damaged reputation that continues to be pummelled remorselessly. It’s a process that has produced — on his part — one flawed strategy after another, from the disastrous Newsnight interview to trying to prove that as a prince he could run and he could hide.

He couldn’t, and he has officially received the court papers relating to the sexual assault lawsuit. Andrew’s legal team will now make one last attempt to stop this case in its tracks. His American lawyer, Andrew Brettler (who has defended several Hollywood actors accused of sexual misconduct) will attempt to argue that a previously secret settlement between Virginia Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein exempts the prince from any liability. Her lawyers insist the settlement is ‘irrelevant’ to Andrew’s case.

If recent briefings to newspapers are correct, then his lawyers are minded to come out fighting and provide a point by point rebuttal

If they’re wrong, the prince will gain the respite he craves. If they’re right, the senior royal and the British monarchy enter perilous territory, as Andrew considers how best to respond to this claim for damages.

Virginia Giuffre alleges she was brought, aged 17, to the UK to have sex with Andrew. A victim of sex trafficking and controlled by Epstein, the sex offender, she maintains she was sexually abused by the prince on two more occasions.

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