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Prince Andrew lawsuit ‘will cast cloud over Queen’s Platinum Jubilee’

The Queen‘s platinum jubilee is set to be dogged by her son Palace Andrew’s court drama, in what a royal expert has described as ‘grim news’ for Buckingham Palace.

Documents lodged in New York show the civil case of rape and sexual assault being brought against him by Jeffrey Epstein‘s victim is to go ahead as quickly as possible.

Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled, with the agreement of both parties, that all disclosures and depositions should be completed before July next year.

This means that key moments in the case will be heard in the run-up to the official national celebrations to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

And royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said that there will now be a ‘cloud’ over the festivities, caused by Andrew’s ‘atrociously ill-advised friendship with Epstein’.

Queen Elizabeth II with her son Prince Andrew on the Buckingham Palace balcony in June 2019

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, then 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in London in 2001

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, then 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in London in 2001

The commemorations will last throughout the year and will see senior royals – except Andrew – travel around the country and overseas. The events will culminate in a four-day bank holiday over the first weekend of June.

And Mr Fitzwilliams told MailOnline today: ‘The news that the court case brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Prince Andrew will be heard in the run-up to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations is grim news for the Palace.

Queen hasn’t walked dogs for nearly a week 

The Queen has not been able to enjoy her daily walk with her dogs for almost a week after being told to rest by doctors.

Sources say the monarch has been taking their orders to rest seriously after she was kept in hospital overnight on Wednesday for ‘preliminary investigations’.

The Queen and her dogs at Windsor in 1994

The Queen and her dogs at Windsor in 1994

The Queen, 95, has two corgi puppies and dorgi Candy, a cross between a corgi and a dachshund. One of the highlights of her day is being driven to walk them near Frogmore on her Windsor estate, where Harry and Meghan once lived.

Family and friends believe these daily excursions are a ‘tonic’ and have helped keep the Queen so healthy in her nineties.

But instead the dogs have been walked by staff since her hospital stay. Buckingham Palace said yesterday that the Queen was still in good spirits and undertaking some ‘light duties’ while resting.

It is still hoped she will be able to lead the Royal Family at the Cop26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow next week, either in person or via video link. A final decision will be made towards the end of this week.

‘It means that speculation which is certain to be sensational is likely to make headline news over the coming months. 

‘It is unclear if the disclosure of the 2009 settlement agreement between the deceased paedophile Epstein and Virginia Roberts, to which his lawyers have recently been given access, will be helpful to his case.

‘If Prince Andrew were required to answer questions put to him by her lawyers, he could exercise his right to be silent, or he could claim the request should be set aside as he has no evidence which is material to offer.’

The latest court document shows that Judge Kaplan intends to draw a line under any amendments to the New York proceedings by December 15.

All disclosures relating to expert witnesses should be made by June 13 with the disclosure process complete a month later. One US legal expert described the scheduling order as ‘brisk’.

Mr Fitzwilliams added that Andrew has ‘strongly denied the charges and undoubtedly believes that if he can discredit his accuser, some of whose statements have appeared contradictory, this would be a route back for him to salvage his reputation’.

He continued: ‘Obviously if he were attempt to settle, it would be seen as an admission of guilt.

‘At this stage it is unclear what precisely what will happen in the coming months but the publicity accompanying it will undoubtedly be deeply damaging to the royal family.

‘The Queen, who is reportedly funding his legal bills, will be celebrating an anniversary unique in this country’s history, but there will be a cloud caused by his atrociously ill-advised friendship with Epstein.

‘However, a very serious block to any rehabilitation is the court of public opinion in which his support is, according to polls, almost non-existent.

‘There has been no indication that he has cooperated with the FBI who are trying to trace Epstein’s accomplices, as he promised to do.’

Andrew, who was a close friend of financier and convicted paedophile Epstein, has always denied Virginia Giuffre’s claims that she was trafficked by her abuser to have sex with him on three occasions when she was 17.

Virginia Roberts

Jeffrey Epstein

Andrew has always denied claims by Virginia Giuffre (left) that she was trafficked by her abuser Jeffrey Epstein (right) to have sex with him on three occasions when she was 17

The Queen at a reception for the Global Investment Conference at Windsor Castle last Tuesday

The Queen at a reception for the Global Investment Conference at Windsor Castle last Tuesday

Although the prince and his legal team were shocked when she suddenly lodged a civil claim against him in April, they now intend to use it to try to prove his innocence once and for all.

Virginia Giuffre is pictured after a hearing in the Jeffrey Epstein case in New York in 2019

Virginia Giuffre is pictured after a hearing in the Jeffrey Epstein case in New York in 2019

They have until this Friday to respond to the claims in her lawsuit, with a further hearing at a court in Manhattan due to be held next week. Epstein killed himself while in custody.

Mr Fitzwilliams continued: ‘His (Andrew’s) interview with Emily Maitlis is one of the greatest public relations disasters in royal history.

‘There appears to be no way back for him, which is why he may feel he has little to lose in conducting a more aggressive defence.

‘The damage to the monarchy, however, may be considerable during a period which ought to be one of rejoicing.’

In the Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions and said: ‘I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.

‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.’

The duke also said he has no memory of a well-known photograph of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre’s waist and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.

The fallout from the interview saw the royal criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with disgraced financier.

Earlier this month the Metropolitan Police said it was taking no action over Ms Giuffre’s claims. Andrew has not been charged with any crime.


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