Why Prince Andrew Finally Agreed to Settle

When a court filing on Tuesday announced that Prince Andrew had settled with Virginia Giuffre, a Jeffrey Epstein victim who accused the prince of sexual assault in a civil suit filed last August, it meant the culmination of a decade-long fight in the court of opinion. From the moment in February 2011 when the Mail on Sunday published a photo of Andrew and Giuffre standing together, his reputation began to sustain irreparable damage.

On Monday, The Independent reported that Andrew’s legal team actually sought a copy of that photo, which Giuffre claimed to no longer have. But for such a slow-burning story, it reached a quick conclusion. By Tuesday, a settlement guaranteed that the case would not go to trial and some of the most vexing questions about Andrew’s friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein might never be answered.

Per the settlement statement, Andrew will pay Giuffre within 30 days and will also donate to her charity, but the sum of the settlement will not be disclosed. On Tuesday, The Telegraph reported that the total sum will be more than 12 million British pounds (or about $16.3 million), and that the queen would assist him using her private funds from the Duchy of Lancaster. The newspaper also reported that the queen helped fund his legal battle “to the tune of millions of pounds.”

The queen’s communications secretary, Donal McCabe, told MailOnline, “We have never commented on the financial arrangements of the duke’s legal matters and will not be going forward.”

Why Prince Andrew Finally Agreed to Settle

As recently as January, a source close to Andrew said a settlement was “not an option being considered.” One reason for his about-face might have to do with the royal calendar. After the settlement became public, the Mirror reported that Andrew was under “intense pressure from the very top” and royal insiders hoped a quick resolution would prevent a shadow over Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. In the Mirror’s account, Andrew spoke to his mother after his legal team’s efforts to have the suit dismissed failed on January 12, and she consulted with Prince Charles and Prince William, who asked him to settle the matter. The tabloid added that settlement negotiations between Andrew and Giuffre’s lawyers took about 10 days.

Another reason might have to do with the specifics of the lawsuit itself. After Andrew’s motion for dismissal failed in January, the suit was set to enter the discovery phase, and earlier this month The Sun reported that Andrew would likely face a deposition sometime in March. According to royal sources who spoke to the Evening Standard, if Andrew were to be interviewed, it could cause more damage to the crown than a settlement would. “The prospect of the duke being cross-examined onscreen by legal interrogators filled the Prince of Wales and Her Majesty and other senior royals with dread,” one source told the newspaper.

Another royal source told the newspaper that the queen and Charles were influenced by the outcome of Andrew’s calamitous interview with BBC Newsnight in November 2019. “The Prince of Wales and the Queen could not countenance another disastrous appearance by the Duke of York, in light of his BBC interview,” the source said. “Decisive action was needed. There was little choice. He had to see sense.”

Ultimately, Andrew has made no admission of guilt in the matter and has previously said that he doesn’t recall ever meeting Giuffre. It might seem a little contradictory, but a source close to the negotiations explained his reasoning after the settlement was announced. “Walls were closing in fast,” the source told The Telegraph. “After his deposition, he would likely have been so damaged that no one could save him or agree to fund his settlement.”

According to the Daily Mail, sources in the royal household are relieved that the saga has finally come to an end. One royal insider explained that “no one had much sympathy for Andrew,” while another senior royal source said they felt he had “ruled himself out of any public role by virtue of his appalling lack of judgment and poor choice of friends and associates.”

Another royal source explained the mood in the palace. “There is huge relief in the royal household,” the source told the tabloid. “This has been a very difficult time for everyone involved, not least because of the issues involved and that the allegations had been made by an acknowledged victim of Jeffrey Epstein. The feeling is that the situation was badly—inexcusably badly—managed by Andrew and his advisers from the start. It was as if they thought they could close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears and it would all go away.”