Prince Andrew still believes he has a shot at public life.
Pals of the Duke of York made that claim after Prince Andrew agreed last week to settle his sex abuse case by making a substantial donation to his accuser’s charity and declaring that he never meant to malign her character.
Kerene Barefield, an executive producer for True Royalty TV, said the revelation came during a recent taping of “The Royal Beat,” a talk show for the streaming service that features exclusive interviews with royal experts and palace insiders.
“The royal experts shared, by speaking to friends of the Duke of York, that he still believes he has a future as a royal,” Barefield told Fox News Digital. “The language that he used in his statement, like the fact he will be helping sex trafficking victims, could be seen as him trying to reposition himself and reinvent himself in the eyes of the public. It’s my understanding that [his daughter] Princess Eugenie also has a charity that helps sex trafficking victims. And it might be that he’s trying to get on board with that.”PRINCE ANDREW’S EX-WIFE SARAH FERGUSON MAKES FIRST PUBLIC OUTING SINCE DUKE OF YORK’S SEX ABUSE SETTLEMENT
Barefield said the announcement of the 61-year-old’s settlement was “a shock” to those in the UK because they were expecting a lengthy court battle.
“It just felt so sudden,” she said. “The immediate question that came to mind was why now? According to the royal experts, there was a push from the queen and Prince Charles to get things sorted. The scandal is not good for the monarchy, and it’s certainly not good for public perception of the monarchy. So it’s my understanding that Prince Charles and the queen wanted this matter solved quickly so they can get on with their work and highlight the good that the monarchy still does.”
The deal does avoid a trial that would have brought further embarrassment to the monarchy. Besides the undisclosed donation to Virginia Giuffre’s charity, the court filing revealed that Andrew acknowledges she suffered as an abuse victim. It did not specify whether Giuffre would personally receive money as part of the settlement.
According to The Telegraph, Andrew will pay Giuffre more than 12 million pounds – or more than $16 million – using money from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The outlet noted that the reigning monarch, 95, has privately funded her son’s legal fight “to the tune of millions” and will now partly fund the settlement to avoid having the case overshadow her Platinum Jubilee this year. The queen’s contribution to the settlement will reportedly come from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate.
It is estimated that the money from the settlement would be split into three unequal portions — with Guiffre, her lawyers and charities each taking a piece.
“I don’t think the queen would be paying the settlement money,” said Barefield. “However, she could possibly be paying some of the funds to the charity. It just wouldn’t sit well with people if the queen contributed financially to the settlement itself. But the situation does put her in a tricky spot as a queen and as a mother. Every parent wants to help their children, but in her case, she has all of the public’s eyes on her.”
While Andrew may be eager to put the case behind him, Barefield suspected that his woes are far from over.
“We truly don’t know if in time Virginia Giuffre will write a book,” she explained. “And right before Andrew agreed to settle, there was a massage therapist who regularly treated the prince that alleged he was a constant sex pest to her. That was quite shocking. So it makes me wonder, how many more people could come forward with their own stories? Will this truly go away for Prince Andrew? Once the settlement is over, will more people come forward and speak out or sell their stories to the press?”
Barefield also pointed out that Andrew shouldn’t expect the public to welcome him back with open arms.
“People don’t think of him very positively here,” she said. “They feel that he should have been more remorseful earlier. He’s certainly lost a lot of supporters in the UK… The lawyer we also spoke to shared that the only reason people settle is that they think they’re going to get caught.”
Many have wondered if the British monarchy could survive this public scandal. Barefield is optimistic.
“When it comes to the royal family, life goes on, and they like to exemplify that with their work,” she said. “Shortly after, the queen did her first in-person public engagement since the settlement. While her family may be in turmoil, the queen obviously wanted to put out a positive image that the head of the household is carrying on. It is all about public perception. And I think she wanted to put that positive image across, that the monarchy does have a future and it will carry on.”
Giuffre, 38, sued Andrew in August. The American accused the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations and attempted to get the lawsuit tossed earlier this year.
According to the statement, Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said he “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.” He also pledged to support the victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.
Andrew — who had already stepped back from royal duties — was stripped of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages. He also can no longer use the title “his royal highness” in official settings.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew.
Her lawsuit said she still suffers significant emotional and psychological distress and harm. She has alleged she had sex with Andrew three times: in London during a 2001 trip, at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the Virgin Islands when she was 18.
Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her, although a photograph of Giuffre and Andrew together in a London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff, was included in Giuffre’s lawsuit against him.
Inconsistencies in her statements over the years that would have been highlighted by Andrew’s attorneys at trial may have motivated her, in part, to settle, though she has explained them as innocent mistakes that occur when recalling traumatic events years later.
Andrew served in the Royal Navy for two decades, including as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. The honorary military roles he lost included several overseas ones, such as his title as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
He has spent years combating concerns about his links with Epstein, the U.S. financier who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges last month.
A settlement of the Andrew lawsuit would follow deals reached by Giuffre years ago to resolve separate lawsuits against Maxwell and Epstein. It was recently revealed that Epstein settled for $500,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.