Prince Andrew has agreed to pay Virginia Roberts Giuffre £12m (almost $14m) to settle her rape case against him out of court—and he will be using money from the queen to pay Giuffre, the Telegraph reported late Tuesday. The queen has already spent millions of dollars footing her shamed son’s legal bills.
The announcement of the settlement earlier in the day was both surprising, and not. Students of American law have been keen to point out in recent months that some 97% of civil cases in the United States are settled out of court.
But the vociferous messaging by the legal teams of both Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre that they would not settle their court case and that only an outright victory would do, may have led some to believe that Giuffre’s civil suit was destined to be one of the 3% that goes to trial.
In fact the suit, in which Giuffre was seeking unspecified damages and accused Andrew of raping her three times when she was a teenager under Jeffrey Epstein’s control, was settled Tuesday. An unexpected announcement on behalf of both sides confirmed a deal had been struck. The Telegraph said the deal had been hammered out at the weekend.
Whether it was for $50 or $50 million will never be officially known, as both sides agreed to keep the terms of the deal secret, although Andrew has pledged to make a donation to Giuffre’s charitable foundation, the size of which may emerge in regulatory filings.
Earlier in the day, MailOnline said it had been told by a “senior palace source” that the settlement was in the region of $10million—and would be paid for by the sale of his Swiss chalet. The Telegraph report contradicts that.
Andrew did not admit guilt but did apologize for his association with Epstein in a statement accompanying the settlement.
“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”
— Post-settlement statement
He said that he had “never intended to malign” the character of Giuffre, and the statement added, “Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”
It was certainly a far cry, in tone, from the defiant attitude Andrew was striking as recently as last month, when he insisted he was going to take the case all the way, fight on and clear his name.
So what changed? Certainly the prospect of having to give a deposition seems to have focused Andrew’s mind. His sit-down with the feared inquisitor David Boies had been due to take place on March 10th. Andrew would have had to spend the best part of two days talking about his sex life, on video, highlights of which might subsequently have been played to a jury in open court.
For Giuffre, sources on her side have privately admitted that settling was always going to be an option for the simple reason that ultimately a civil trial is about one thing and one thing only: money. Money is the term of reference of the judgment, so if the price was right there would have been little sense in not accepting a settlement.
David Boies even told the Telegraph in an interview: “If you had a settlement that was large enough to be, in effect, a vindication, then it’s something we would obviously look at.”
For Andrew’s part, sources on his side have also quietly let The Daily Beast know that they did not wish to “foreclose” on the possibility of settling.
But in the game of chess that is a civil legal battle, one of the most hallowed traditions is to talk tough and insist publicly that you are not going to settle—right up until the moment you do.
There might be a perception that Andrew left it late in the day to settle, and there has been speculation that he was put under pressure to make the case go away by Prince Charles.
“Charles did not want this hanging over the Royal Family this year.”
— Royal source
One royal source quoted by MailOnline, for example, said: “I’m sure that Charles has had enough and blown a gasket. Charles would have said to him that he needed to get this sorted out as soon as possible and before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations begin. Charles did not want this hanging over the Royal Family this year.”
One can imagine why the king in waiting would want to foster a narrative showing him as the forcible voice of reason, knocking heads together and obliging compliance to his will.
The reality, however, is that Prince Charles has very little influence over Prince Andrew anymore. Andrew’s expulsion from the royal family has largely been masterminded by Charles and there is no doubt that Andrew will not have any privileges, roles or titles restored by his brother.
His ability to force his brother to make a multi-million dollar legal settlement—that leaves him financially and reputationally ruined—is doubtful.
If, in fact, the queen picked up the bill, then it might be conceivable that the royal family were able to apply some pressure to Andrew to bring the tawdry affair to a conclusion.
For now, all these details are swathed in secrecy, with Andrew’s side refusing to say how the settlement was funded and the palace declining to make any comment on the affairs of a man who is now, officially, just another private citizen.
But the damage that has been done to the royals by this affair is immeasurable. For the queen’s son to be forking out a reported $14 million over a sex assault case is an unprecedentedly low water mark for the dignity of the house of Windsor.
“It has been made clear that the public have heard enough about him and enough from him. They need to hear no more.”
— Royal source
Attention will now almost certainly turn to Andrew’s future plans. He may hope this is a starting point of royal rehabilitation, but given that even a school in Canada has changed name to avoid unwelcome association with him, that may be optimistic. Late Tuesday, cabinet members of York City Council in England asked that the title of Duke of York be removed from him.
The Telegraph says Andrew will appear alongside the rest of the royals at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service in late March, but will not take part in any events linked to the queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
A source close to his team told the Telegraph: “It has been made clear that the public have heard enough about him and enough from him. They need to hear no more.”
He can never hope to be restored to any formal position of royal glory or importance by Charles or William. His best hope, therefore, might be to find an uncontroversial charitable cause and humbly put himself to work in its service for several years in the honorable tradition of the British politician John Profumo. It’s either that, or spend more time with his horses.
Oh—and maybe Andrew could also help his image by giving a call to the FBI, who still want to talk to him about what he knew about Epstein’s trafficking operation.
For Virginia Giuffre, by contrast, the future is bright. The funding from Andrew for her foundation, which appears to have been a condition of the settlement, suggests that she will use her platform to be a high-profile campaigner against the many forms sexual slavery can take.
It is, for both players in this amazing story—an extraordinary reversal of fortune that few could have predicted.