Prince Andrew: Queen's 'personal battle' outlined by host
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An ongoing civil case, involving historic allegations levelled against him by Virginia Giuffre, has left the 61-year-old with little choice but to “hide behind his lawyers”, Richard Hillgrove claimed. He also questioned the Duke’s decision to press ahead with his interview with Emily Maitlis last year, suggesting: “He’s been badly advised.”
Andrew’s lawyers are currently trying to block Ms Giuffre’s bid to sue him, with the 38-year-old accusing the Prince of sexual assault when she was aged 17, at which time she was known as Virginia Roberts.
Ms Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was a minor under US law.
The Duke of York has made it clear he strenuously denies the allegations.
Mr Hillgrove, a PR consultant who has worked with Charles Saatchi, Julian Assange, Amber Heard, Rose McGowan, and Dame Vivienne Westwood, told Express.co.uk: “He really has had his hand forced and it’s all about impact on the Royal Family.
“The Queen, in this Platinum Jubilee year, does not really want this situation, but there seem to be all these fires lit and everyone seems to be getting in the neck.
Obviously Andrew has made himself quite an easy target with a colourful lifestyle in the past
“And obviously Andrew has made himself quite an easy target with a colourful lifestyle in the past and the types of people he used to hang out with coming back now to haunt him.”
Mr Hillgrove added: “I think Epstein kind of used him for a sort of pseudo-royal warrant.”
Being a civil case, there was no prospect of Prince Andrew serving any jail time, so the legally strategic point was to “humiliate the British Royal Family”, Mr Hillgrove said.
Speaking of the role of the Queen, Mr Hillgrove explained: “She is head of the family brand and she wants to do everything possible to clean this up, obviously.
“This seems to be a strategic assault from the other side of the pond.
“Who’s footing the bill for the lawyers? Why are they footing the bill for the lawyers?
“No-one’s going to be going to prison. It’s clearly a strategic effort, like many other strategic efforts, to annihilate the British Royal brand internationally.”
Mr Hillgrove described Andrew’s interview with Ms Maitlis, in which he infamously insisted he could not have been with Ms Giuffre on the night she claimed because he was in a Pizza Express in Woking with his daughter Princess Beatrice, as a mistake.
During the interview Ms Maitlis also questioned Andrew about a photograph of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre.
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Prince Andrew said he had “absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken”, and denies ever having met Ms Giuffre.
Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend who was last month convicted of sex trafficking offences, was shown smiling in the background.
Mr Hillgrove said: “He just seems to trip up and he’s been getting very bad PR advice.
“I think he thought, ‘let’s do the Emily Maitlis interview, let’s be transparent and by being completely transparent this will go away’.
“But he got tripped up on many occasions and has made it worse for himself rather than better.
“It didn’t look particularly good and I would be frightened to see him try and do anything openly and transparently again.
“He really does need to hide behind the lawyers now.”
Andrew’s lawyer Andrew B Brettler told a US court on Tuesday Ms Giuffre had waived her right to sue him for sexual assault when she signed a £370,000 ($500,000) settlement agreement with Epstein in 2009.
The document, made public on Monday, detailed how Andrew’s accuser had agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” disgraced financier Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.
Mr Brettler said about the claim for damages brought by Ms Giuffre: “It is unfair, it is unjust, it should be dismissed.”
Judge Lewis A Kaplan, presiding over the case, told the parties at the conclusion of the hearing, convened to hear arguments about dismissing the civil lawsuit, he would have a decision “very soon”.
Express.co.uk has contacted Prince Andrew via his lawyers for comment.
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