What the Prince Andrew settlement with Virginia Giuffre reveals about the monarchy
Prince Andrew’s settlement with Virginia Giuffre is the monarchy’s way of dealing with a troublesome scandal, and it shows how the institution really operates, writes Nick Mitchell
A member of the British royal family has agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle out of court with a woman who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was a child, in return for her silence.
Quite a statement of fact, especially if you were to somehow read it without any knowledge of recent history.
Prince Andrew always claimed he had never met Ms Giuffre, and only weeks ago promised to prove his innocence in front of a jury.
Instead, his mum’s team stepped in to ensure the matter never sees the light of day.
Having reportedly stumped up the money to make this problem go away (no doubt helped in large part by us taxpayers), the Queen would now much rather we put the whole Prince Andrew / Virginia Giuffre / Jeffrey Epstein business out of our minds.
She has a Platinum Jubilee to celebrate, after all.
No doubt the whole sordid saga will gradually slip off the news agenda in the days and weeks to come, to be replaced by whatever fluff the royal PR machine conjures up ahead of the Queen’s big bash in June.
Expect William and Kate to be put on photo-call overtime.
Incredibly, at least one publication has asked today whether Prince Andrew can make a comeback. Seriously.
But the question of his future status, or which titles he may cling on to, is of lesser significance to what he’s done - and said - in the past.
The settlement means we’ll never really know what happened. But we can consider what he’s said.
What did Prince Andrew previously say about Virginia Giuffre?
In his car-crash interview with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in 2019, the duke was asked if he remembered having sex with Ms Giuffre (then Virginia Roberts) in 2001.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he said.
Maitlis then described the accusations: “She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp Nightclub in London. She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to [disgraced British socialite] Ghislaine Maxwell.”
“It didn’t happen,” he replied matter-of-factly, before going on to explain how he was at Pizza Express in Woking that night, which was “an unusual thing” for him to do.
What did Prince Andrew say in the new statement?
The statement announcing the out of court settlement says that Prince Andrew “intends to make a substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights”.
It adds: “Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.
“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years.
“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.
“He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”
It does not take a logician to realise that these two facts - his outright denial of ever meeting her and the out of court settlement - do not make easy bedfellows.
The legal language of the statement is careful to both avoid admitting any guilt (aside from his “regret” over his friendship with Epstein) while also avoiding casting any blame in Ms Giuffre’s direction.
So that’s the end of the matter, in a legal sense.
The question of the damage the Duke of York has inflicted on the institution of the monarchy remains to be seen.
But what’s also become clear is that this institution is rotten to the core, and would rather throw (our) money at scandals than see true justice done.
Let’s see if the British public will just forgive, forget and get the bunting out this summer.
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