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Prince Andrew could be kicked out of Windsor Castle after Ghislaine Maxwell sentencing, say experts

The i 03/07/2022 Poppy Wood

Prince Andrew will likely be kicked out of Windsor Castle and forced to fend for himself as attention turns to the disgraced royal in the wake of Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing, experts have said.

The Duke of York has kept a low profile since paying an estimated £12m settlement to Virginia Giuffre, which the Queen is believed to have contributed to, following her sexual assault allegations against him. Prince Andrew has always denied the allegations.

He was due to make an appearance at a thanksgiving service for the Queen during her Platinum Jubilee last month but cancelled the day before after a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said the Duke had contracted Covid.

Prince Andrew was also reportedly banned from the annual Garter Day service at Windsor Castle in June after a last-minute intervention from senior royals, despite his name being on the official order of service.

However, royal experts have insisted he cannot be “swept away” forever, and claimed discussions are likely going on behind the scenes at the Palace to move him off the royal estate.

“It’s almost certain that he’s going to be homeless. They’ll take him out of the Royal Lodge and give it to someone else,” Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace, told i.

And by someone else, I don’t mean Fergie. She hasn’t done an awful lot for the Royal Family either,” he added, referring to the Duke’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who has shared the £30m mansion on the grounds of Windsor Castle with Prince Andrew since 2004.

According to Mr Cawthorne, Maxwell’s 20-year jail sentence handed down last week will likely prompt further criticism of the Royal Family for providing Prince Andrew refuge on the estate, rather than draw a line under the matter.

The former socialite was found guilty on five out of six charges against her at a trial in New York on Tuesday, including sex trafficking, conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking and transportation of a person across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Following the verdict, lawyers for Maxwell’s victims said the FBI should investigate Prince Andrew next, with questions still swirling about his associations with the British media heir, who appears in a controversial picture alongside Andrew and Ms Giuffre which emerged in 2019.

“I just cannot see a way back for him now,” Mr Cawthorne said. “Various victims in the Maxwell case are urging the FBI to continue their investigations into Prince Andrew, so it’s very unlikely that he can go anywhere – certainly not the US.”

The FBI made an official request to speak to the Duke over his relationship to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2020.

US investigators applied to the British Government to summon the Duke to give evidence through a Mutual Legal Assistance request to the Home Office, bypassing Buckingham Palace. The move would allow the FBI to compel Prince Andrew to give evidence under oath in a British court.

However, the Duke is still yet to be questioned. In the last comment from the FBI on the matter, US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman said in 2020 that Prince Andrew had offered “zero cooperation”.

The Duke was said to be “angry and bewildered” by the claims and insisted he had received no such request.

But while he may think he is protecting the monarchy by not speaking to the FBI, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams believes he may in fact be damaging it further.

“In theory, it would be better if he cooperated with the FBI, but the point is that he hasn’t,” he told i.

“It has been clear for quite some time that there is no future as a working member of the Royal Family for him. Prince Charles sees that and Prince William sees that.

“But the worry is that Virginia Giuffre hasn’t signed a non-disclosure agreement, so something else might pop up.”

David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, revealed earlier this year that “there’s no confidentiality clause” to her out-of-court settlement with Prince Andrew, leaving the door open to further damaging allegations.

He also said the settlement did not prevent his client from filing a criminal complaint against the Duke.

Prince Andrew has already been stripped of his military appointments, his patronages, and the use of “His Royal Highness”, leaving little else for him to lose publicly should further accusations emerge.

“The York brand is too toxic to return,” Mr Fitzwilliams told i. “The task now for the Royal Family is to give him something out of the public eye that he can do.

“His job is not, as it would seem is his intention with the Garter Day ceremony, to make public appearances.

“It’s been the case for quite a while that he’s been swept away out of the public eye. No one wants to see him, no one wants to have links with him.”

There appears to be little doubt that Prince Andrew will not make a return to his public duties. But questions linger over what his life outside the royal fold would look like.

“There’s been some talk of him doing some sort of charity work, but the problem is: what charity would want him?” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine.

“He’s perceived as rather toxic and most of the associations that have been connected with him for quite some time have been very keen to distance themselves from him.

“I don’t see any reason for that to change now that Maxwell has been sentenced. Clearly Prince Andrew is something of an ongoing problem.”

The Duke has become a rare sighting in recent months. Besides being spotted horse riding on the grounds of Windsor Castle last week, Prince Andrew has not made a public appearance since accompanying the Queen to Prince Philip’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey in March.

“Attention is now turning back to him after the sentencing [of Maxwell] with speculation about what to do next,” Mr Little told i. “I certainly don’t think it’s going to get better for him.”

Prince Andrew does not qualify for funding through the Sovereign Grant, which hands certain senior royals taxpayer money, meaning he likely receives financial help from the Queen.

This has lead some critics to note that while he may be relatively sheltered for now, things will get a lot more difficult for him if Prince Charles becomes King.

“When Prince Charles takes over the throne, if indeed he does, there’s no chance that Prince Andrew will come back into public life,” said Mr Cawthorne. “The question of how he’ll finance himself is now becoming a very difficult one.

“He does have a pension from the Navy, but that’ll hardly go a long way.”

Mr Cawthorne expects the Royal family will likely be holding crisis talks on how to “handle” Prince Andrew in the event of the Queen’s death.

“I’m sure they must be keeping an eye on the situation,” he said. “But even if he’s kicked out, what is there for him? I mean, would you sit next to him at a dinner party?”

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