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There was a resounding silence from Buckingham Palace Tuesday following a jailhouse interview with sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell in which she defended Prince Andrew, suggested he never met Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, and said that a famous photo of Andrew with his arm around Giuffre’s bare midriff, taken when she was 17, was a “fake.”
Andrew paid a reputed $14 million settlement to Giuffre to settle her claims out of court without admitting guilt last year ahead of his mother’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. He is reportedly now mulling a bid to reopen the case and overturn the settlement.
While the king’s press office and official sources declined to comment on the interview to The Daily Beast, a friend of the king scoffed at reports that the king would support Andrew in trying to re-open the settlement.
The Sun earlier this week cited a source as saying that Charles was “happy for (Andrew) to pursue this…Andrew is still his brother and he wants the best for him.”
However, The Daily Beast understands that this is very much not the case, and that Andrew is likely to be strongly discouraged from trying to revisit the settlement.
A friend of the king’s, asked if they believed Andrew would receive Charles’ support to re-litigate the case, told The Daily Beast that the king would on no account wish to see the “muck heap” of allegations stirred up again
The friend said: “Charles led the charge for Andrew to stand down from royal duties and settle the case. He will not want him to start stirring the muck heap now. I very much doubt Andrew will get this off the ground. There is no love lost between the brothers, and there is no way back for Andrew.”
There is likely to be considerable irritation that comments about Andrew made in the interview with Maxwell have comprehensively overshadowed the plans for Charles’ coronation, released with great fanfare on Sunday.
Asked about the infamous photo of her, Andrew, and Virginia Giuffre, Maxwell said: “Well, It’s a fake. I don’t believe it’s real for a second. In fact I’m sure it’s not… There’s never been an original… there’s no photograph, I’ve only ever seen a photocopy of it.”
She questioned Giuffre’s account of the night in question and the clothes she was wearing in the picture. She said: “I don’t believe it happened, certainly the way as described. It would have been impossible. I don’t have any memory of going to [the London nightclub] Tramp. Certainly it’s not an outfit I would have worn.
“Her stories have changed so many times, about what happens, when it happens, how it happens with different versions… Each time she speaks there’s a different version. In fact, if you look at her BBC interview, on Panorama, I believe she said…he puked on her face. That’s the only time she ever said that.”
If Maxwell thought she was helping Andrew by leaping to his defense, the overwhelming feeling is that she was misguided.
Attorney Lisa Bloom said that the extent of Andrew’s travails was shown clearly by the fact that his only “public advocate” was a “convicted sex trafficker serving 20 years.”
“All the legal minds say he hasn’t a hope in hell of overturning this settlement with Virginia Giuffre.”
— Nigel Cawthorne
Nigel Cawthorne, a biographer of Prince Andrew who wrote the book Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace told The Daily Beast: “It all seems to keep coming back to this whole thing about whether the photograph is fake. It is not. It was given to the FBI for goodness sake. All the legal minds say he hasn’t a hope in hell of overturning this settlement with Virginia Giuffre.
“I suspect that the real motivation may be to discredit Virginia ahead of the gagging order on her expiring next month. They may be getting their retaliation in first.”
Interviewer Daphne Barak told Talk TV’s Jeremy Kyle show, which carried the interview, that Andrew would be “relieved” at Maxwell’s comments and said she made them “to help Prince Andrew.”
She said, “I am very close to the most close people to him…There is a feeling right now that he settled too quickly, he might have misunderstood that when he gave up the titles that they would not be given back to him. It’s a tough reality for him. If indeed he was forced to settle for something he didn’t do… is something that is being considered legally right now, that is something I can definitely confirm.”
However, the London Times’ Helen Rumbelow spoke for many when she rebutted the case for Maxwell’s ‘help’ writing: “Rather than bolster Andrew’s bid to wear the full tassel of military dress uniform again, King Charles may notice that Maxwell’s interview serves to remind his subjects of a painful subject. Prince Harry’s recent revelations had provided something of a distraction: Andrew being defended on the Jeremy Kyle show brings everyone back up to speed.”
Christopher Andersen, author of a definitive new biography of Charles, The King, told The Daily Beast: “This all comes under the heading of no good deed goes unpunished. The king has apparently been too kind for his own good. In recent months, Charles has reached out to others in the family in an effort to fill the terrible void left by his parents’ deaths.
“The last thing the king wants, particularly with his coronation on the horizon, is for Andrew to remind people of his involvement in the sordid-beyond-belief Epstein affair.”
— Christopher Andersen
“Gradually, Andrew has been welcomed back into the royal fold. He was allowed to wear his full military regalia at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, and appeared with the rest of the Windsors during Christmas festivities at Sandringham—baby steps, perhaps, but clearly in the direction of easing Andrew back into the Firm.
“Unfortunately for the king, Andrew, in typical fashion, now wants to seize what he sees as an opportunity to rehabilitate himself, even though that ship has sailed. This is a nightmare scenario for King Charles.
“The last thing the king wants, particularly with his coronation on the horizon, is for Andrew to remind people of his involvement in the sordid-beyond-belief Epstein affair. If Andrew moves forward with this bizarre effort to reopen the settlement, the king will have little choice but to consign him once again to oblivion.”
Prince Andrew no longer has a media spokesperson. His solicitor was emailed requesting comment but did not reply.