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Prince Andrew reaches surprise settlement in sex abuse case

Prince Andrew’s ongoing legal battles over a sex abuse scandal have abruptly ended – with his mother’s purse far lighter and his reputation in tatters. 

On Tuesday, the second son of England’s Queen Elizabeth II reached an out-of-court settlement with a woman who accused him of sexual abuse. The settlement, for an undisclosed figure, means Prince Andrew avoids a trial in the US that would have been a disaster for the British royals. 

When a picture of Prince Andrew with his arm around 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre surfaced, all hell broke loose for the duke; he had to step back from his royal duties in 2019. Also in the picture was Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted in December on charges relating to recruiting victims for notorious sex offender Jeffery Epstein. Prince Andrew was close friends with Epstein, who was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy. 

Giuffre, now 38, brought a case against the Royal last year. In January this year, a New York court ruled that the civil action against him could go ahead.

Giuffre alleges she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to perform sex acts with his friends, including the senior royal, who she said was aware she was underage in the US at the time.

In a widely ridiculed 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight, Prince Andrew said he didn’t recall meeting Giuffre and that an incident in which they had sex at Maxwell’s Belgravia home “didn’t happen”.

A statement from both sides’ lawyers said the Prince would pay an undisclosed sum to Giuffre and make a “substantial donation” to her charity in support of victims’ rights, the BBC reported. 

In the statement, Prince Andrew pledged to “demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims”.

The settlement is a remarkable about-turn: the disgraced royal had vowed to fight to clear his name in court, the Guardian reported. But it would have been a little too late –  a picture is worth a thousand words, after all. Most agree his reputation is wrecked and that he’ll have to avoid public life for a long time. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 February 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.