Daniela Elser: Queen faces possible backlash as Prince Andrew’s crisis worsens

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of five of the six federal charges of sex trafficking. Video / ITV News

OPINION:

The thing about writing about Prince Andrew and his many, many struggles is that whenever you might think things have hit rock bottom for the constantly besieged royal, then blamo! More story breaks and things look even more dire at Hindenburg’s level to him.

Having, over the past two years, lost in the most dizzying fashion his reputation, social standing, charitable connections, active member of the royal family and the freedom to rub shoulders with as many billionaire Central Asian despots as possible. a living room in Buckingham Palace, things got even more dire for the former naval officer.

I know. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

This week’s civil case filed against Andrew by former teenage sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by the Queen’s second son on three separate occasions (a charge he has made). vigorously denied), will be back before a judge in New York, with his high-priced legal team having filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

As we have to wait and see how Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan rules, the past week has been spectacularly ugly for Team Andrew, who, aside from his immediate family, appear to be made up entirely of lawyers billing by the hour. . .

On Thursday last week, her former friend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of sex trafficking underage girls in a blow to her own legal outlook (Going to a Hookers and Pimps party with Maxwell in 2000 doesn’t seem like such a good idea. in hindsight, right?)

Prince Andrew followed by Virginia Roberts.  Photo / Supplied
Prince Andrew followed by Virginia Roberts. Photo / Supplied

During the Maxwell case, the court heard that Andrew had flown aboard the “Lolita Express”, Epstein’s private jet, and that Estein and Maxwell’s “Little Black Book” had 16 phone numbers. different for the Duke, including his cell phone and those of Balmoral and Sandringham, the Queen’s two private estates.

Maxwell’s guilty verdict could also undermine attempts by Andrew’s team to present Giuffre as an unreliable witness.

While Giuffre was not called as a witness, a royal aide told The Telegraph: “The jury said these women are credible, their testimony is credible.

“If a jury has decided he is telling the truth, it gives his story a significant boost.”

Elsewhere, the decision of Andrew’s lawyers to try to stop proceedings on the basis of jurisdictional grounds, i.e. Giuffre’s place of residence, has been denied.

And then her legal team revealed that there were no witnesses who could substantiate her claim that he was on a suburban Pizza Express the night Giuffre alleges she first had sex. with the royal and that there are no documents to back up his claim that he may not sweat, a bizarre claim he made to further challenge Giuffre’s account.

But bad news keeps coming for the toxic HRH as it now turns out that Royal Assistants are essentially considering removing Andrew from his York title and throwing him into further “exile” if Giuffre wins his case.

The Times reported that the courtiers “have discussed the intention of asking the Duke of York to stop using his title” if Giuffre wins in their courtroom.

“If he loses the case, the question is, what do you do with him?” said a source familiar with the discussions. “You can’t get him to resign like you would a normal person, but he would be asked to put his duchy on hold.”

Queen Elizabeth II during her annual Christmas show at Windsor Castle.  Photo / AP
Queen Elizabeth II during her annual Christmas show at Windsor Castle. Photo / AP

Another idea that would be on the table is that Andrew would be pushed into something called “internal exile” and would also be forced to give up the charitable ties he still has (why an organization would always want to be associated with him is totally at- beyond me).

What makes all of this particularly noteworthy is that the very fact that there are already conversations going on about what action the Palace would take if Andrew were defeated, is the first real indication that Mommy Mum may not be. -be more fully prepared to protect her son from the continued detriment of the Royal Family and the Crown.

According to the Times, “While no firm decision has been made, royal officials agree that steps should be taken to isolate the monarchy.”

While all of this is humiliating and would likely rock the ego of a man who (before the Fall) behaved with the puffy smugness of a jovial Napoleon, the question is whether that is even far enough away from punishment. ?

Or would such a move just be too small and far too late to stop the reputation rot Andrew has caused the monarchy?

But it was not just the Duke’s behavior that had a bad influence on the House of Windsor. Unfortunately, the queen too.

Since the infamous photo of Andrew, Giuffre and Maxwell first appeared in 2011, Her Majesty, almost every time, has protected him and has used the full power of his position to protect him.

In 2011, after the photo was released, she invested him with the insignia of the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the highest personal honor she can bestow, in a symbolic gesture of support in direct opposition with public sentiment.

Then, days after Epstein died in 2019, she took Andrew to church in a (to me, deeply stupid) display of motherly approval.

Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on February 12, 2000. Photo / Getty Images
Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on February 12, 2000. Photo / Getty Images

Even from 2021, Her Majesty has “made it known” that she wants him to keep his prestigious military roles. In September of last year, when American lawyers attempted to serve papers on him, it was towards his mother, Balmoral’s Scottish bullet hole, that he fled in an attempt to escape them.

Even if the Queen finally makes a commitment and – if Andrew loses – forces him to put his York title on hold, would that even begin to counter the potentially irreparable damage caused not only by Andrew but also by handling this situation? by His Majesty?

Or does it all seem far too little and far too late?

Time and time again the palace has taken steps to ensure that the Duke of York (let’s use the title while we still can, huh?) Attempt to shore up his moldy reputation.

Time is up, old man.

(To be clear here, Andrew has never been charged with any crime and there has never been any indication that he might be).

And, it would seem like it’s time for Andrew to hide behind Angela Kelly’s designed skirts for his mum who, based on this Times report, seems to finally be considering showing some leadership on this front.

Still, I’m not sure the Queen is urging him to stop using his York title and forbid him to rear up in military gear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (or what “inner exile” actually means) will be enough to make the magical audience forget about its excruciating handling of it all.

To me it is simply wrong that the Queen called for bringing the influence and the shine of the throne to try and save the skin of a man who, even if nothing else, saw fit to spend five days in a registered sex offender. .

That Her Majesty has done this at a time when fears about Republican sentiment brewing in corners of her overseas dominions are a very real concern speaks volumes. Children before the Commonwealth, it seems.

Motherly dedication is one thing, but sacrificing the institution that you have spent your entire life defending for a son who has shown a lack of moral fiber? We only have to blame ourselves for the backlash she might be facing.

Regarding Harry and Meghan, the resignation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Her Majesty has acted with a certain ruthless focus on protecting the monarchy at all costs.

Andrew, on the other hand, was not held to any standard, even remotely similar, much to the palace’s discredit.

Prince Andrew speaks during an interview at the Royal Chapel of All Saints' Day at the Royal Lodge in Windsor on April 11, 2021. Photo / AP
Prince Andrew speaks during an interview at the Royal Chapel of All Saints’ Day at the Royal Lodge in Windsor on April 11, 2021. Photo / AP

(Princes Charles and Andrew were said to have been deeply involved in Andrew’s decision to step back as an active member of the Royal Family in the days following his ruinous interview to Newsnight in late 2019. I have often wondered if the Did Queen make such a decisive move if it had been left to her alone? Unfortunately, I don’t think so).

The Queen now risks paying a very high price for her choices, both literally and figuratively.

It is the nonagenarian ruler who is said to have paid the very heavy legal bills for his lost son, bearing the cost of his top defense teams in the US and UK, which will most likely cost him millions. of books. Things could get even more expensive for her if Giuffre wins the case (she seeks unspecified damages).

Given Andrew’s dire financial situation (he and his former wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, are still trying to unload their Swiss ski chalet with the former owner claiming they still owe him $ 9.2 million. dollars), it would be Her Majesty who would probably have to put her hand in her pocket to pay whatever amount the judge might award Giuffre.

Then, if Judge Kaplan dismisses Andrew’s dismissal motion this week, things will look even darker for the Queen.

If the case were to continue, the palace would now face other members of the royal family, potentially including the Duchess of Sussex and Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, being dropped off with its former protection officers.

In addition, the key dates for the trial, which is slated to take place in the second half of the year, are set for May, June and July, that is, right in the culmination of its Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

There is also always the possibility that Maxwell will turn against his former associates, including Andrew, in exchange for a more lenient sentence, according to a former district attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) who told the Telegraph: “If she turns around, she I’m going to rock now. “

If there ever was a time when Andrew could miraculously regain his ability to sweat, it should be now. What about the queen? Unfortunately, the same is true of Her Majesty.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of major Australian media titles.


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