Prince Andrew’s relationship with the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has been thrown back into the spotlight this week – and the royal has more questions to answer than ever.
On Monday, Virginia Giuffre issued legal proceedings against the Duke of York, 61, accusing him of abusing her at the millionaire’s mansion – claims he has repeatedly denied.
The US financier’s former sex slave has brought proceedings under America’s “Child Victims Act”, saying she was “trafficked to” and “sexually abused” by Andrew when she was 17.
Now, a leading civil US civil lawyer has told the Mirror that the prince could be ordered to pay damages in excess of £14million if he loses the case – as it was warned a hearing may be as long as five years away.
The astonishing sum would be a significant dent to Andrew’s estimated £32.5million fortune, which itself has come under scrutiny since his ties to Epstein emerged.
Despite previously only receiving a £249,000 annual sum from the Queen, he has lived a life of luxury, spending £13million on a ski chalet and £7.5million on refurbishing the Royal Lodge – leading critics to question just where he gets the cash.
‘Where does he get his millions?’
“The scandal involving Prince Andrew now is enormous, but there’s another scandal which hasn’t come out yet properly, which is where he gets his millions from,” Norman Baker, a former MP and author of ‘…And What Do You Do?’, a book on the royals’ finances, tells The Mirror.
“It cannot be explained away by what he gets from the Queen or his naval pension.”
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Andrew was stripped of royal duties following his 2019 car crash BBC interview about his friendship with Epstein.
According to The Sun, the prince was summoned to Buckingham Palace where he was informed of the Queen’s decision following lobbying from Prince Charles.
A friend of the Duke told the newspaper: “The Queen summoned the Duke to Buckingham Palace to tell him her decision.
“It was a devastating moment for both of them. His reputation is in tatters.
“It is unlikely he will ever perform royal duties again. He is disgraced.”
The decision meant Andrew would no longer receive his annual £249,000 Sovereign Grant allowance from the Queen.
However, Her Majesty is thought to be still giving her son money from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate and he also receives a £20,000-a-year naval pension.
Despite stepping back from royal duties, the prince also lobbied last year to keep his £300k-a-year taxpayer-funded security guards, according to The Sun.
Amid calls for Andrew to be stripped of his HRH status, he has nonetheless kept hold of the title, which critics argue is a “gateway to public funds”.
“If you’re still HRH, you still qualify for public support,” says Baker. “If you’re HRH you still get support for security – if that’s still applicable to him – and travel.
“If you’re not HRH, you’re on your own, which is what happened to Princess Diana. It’s not just a status symbol, it’s a gateway to public funds.”
Air Miles Andy’s life of luxury
Over the years, Andrew has become infamous for living the life of a billionaire, lounging on superyachts and relaxing on the beach at St Tropez.
He was even dubbed Air Miles Andy after using taxpayers’ money to fund his extensive international travel.
In 2014, he bought a £13million sky chalet in the swanky Swiss resort of Verbier.
Sygma via Getty Images)
The stunning property boasts seven bedrooms, an indoor pool, sauna, sun terrace and bar.
Previously, he also splashed out £7.5million to refurbish the Royal Lodge, his 30-room mansion in Windsor Park.
After marrying Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, in 1986, the father-of-two was given the Sunninghill Park estate in Berkshire.
Following their divorce in 1996, Fergie and Andrew put the property up for sale. It was bought 11 years later by Timor Kulibayev, son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan.
Kulibayev paid £14.4million for the home – £3million more than the asking price.
In 2015, Andrew was snapped wearing an 18-carat Apple Watch estimated to be worth £12,000.
Earlier this year, he left Prince Philip ’s funeral in his new £220,000 Flying Spur Bentley. It was blue when delivered but he had it resprayed racing green.
‘The public has a right to know’
The continued lavish spending, Baker argues, is a matter of public interest while he continues to enjoy HRH status.
“It’s quite clear that the money provided to him officially by the Queen or from his naval pension is totally inadequate to meet the vast amounts of money he has been spending in recent years,” says Baker.
“We have a right to know where it comes from.”
Tim Graham/Getty Images)
David McClure, author of Royal Legacy, previously told the Times: “There is a mystery as to what he lives on and where his money comes from.”
He added: “Andrew’s situation raises the wider issue of the lack of meaningful employment opportunities for middle-ranking royals.
“Traditionally the armed services have been the port of call for princes like him.
“But he left the navy at the age of 41 in 2001 and since then he has struggled to find a proper role in life.”
On Monday, in a New York court, Ms Giuffre accused the prince of raping and sexually abusing her when she was 17.
Andrew has repeatedly denied her allegations and says he has no recollection of meeting her.
Given the severity of the claims, Ms Giuffre’s legal team will be seeking punitive damages – restitution that reflect a person’s wealth.
Leading US civil lawyer Spencer Kuvin, who represents several of Epstein’s victims, said there is no limit to possible damages.
He said: “To punish someone worth a billion dollars you have got to hit them in their pockets and punish them accordingly. Damages against Andrew could range in excess of £14million. Easily.”
In a statement Ms Giuffre said: “I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did. The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible.”
The Mirror has contacted the Duke of York for comment.
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