Queen Elizabeth II must reveal whether she helped fund the estimated $10 million sexual abuse payoff that dramatically halted Prince Andrew‘s Jeffrey Epstein lawsuit, a royal author told Newsweek.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment as documents filed at a New York court on February 15 revealed the Duke of York had settled out of court with accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Pressure immediately began to rise over whether the royals contributed to the pot of cash that stopped Prince Andrew having to testify under oath.
An unconfirmed report in U.K. broadsheet The Daily Telegraph suggested the queen would make a contribution from her Duchy of Lancaster estate, which is not normally described as public money although it comes with the office.
Anti-monarchy campaign group Republic was already demanding answers around two hours after the bombshell announcement emerged from the federal court in the Southern District of New York.
A Twitter post from the group read: “Taxpayers deserve to know where the money is coming from for a settlement. So much public money ends up in royal pockets one way or another, are the British public ultimately paying for Andrew to avoid appearing in court? #AbolishTheMonarchy”
Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace, said that the public had the right to know.
He told Newsweek: “It’s good news in a way, especially for the queen. Maybe this thing won’t be hanging over her Platinum Jubilee. On the other hand there’s no mention of how much money is involved or where he’s going to get it from.
“He’s not a wealthy man. As taxpayers we have the right to know. We want to know, is it coming out of my pocket?”
While the settlement robs the world of the opportunity to see Prince Andrew make good the bluff and bluster of his public denials under oath before a jury, it does offer its own form of financial accountability.
Andrew’s war chest comes in part from selling his Swiss holiday home, Chalet Helora, in Alpine ski resort Verbier, though the sale has not yet been completed.
Amber Melville-Brown, of international law firm Withers, has some experience of trying to extract financial information from the royal family after her involvement in a 2007 lawsuit involving Princess Margaret’s will.
She told Newsweek: “Andrew has paid for his relationship with Epstein with his reputation. The extent to which he will pay financially, and if so how—selling off luxury assets such as a ski-chalet, or applying to the ‘Bank of Mom’—may never be public knowledge.”
The Duke of York has until March 17 to give Giuffre the money or he could be catapulted back into a reputationally devastating court case.
Judge Lewis Kaplan agreed to hold the lawsuit in abeyance until that date but warned: “In the event the stipulation of dismissal is not filed by then, it remains entirely possible that this action will be set for trial when previously indicated.”
Assuming Andrew pays up and the litigation ends, it will spare the queen from having her favorite son’s sexual abuse allegations hanging over her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in early June.
And having stripped the prince of his honorary military titles and patronages in January, the queen has removed a claimed double standard in the treatment of Andrew compared to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Cawthorne said: “The settlement has limited the damage pretty well from the royal family as long as he keeps his head down, I think they’re pretty much in the clear unless there’s criminal charges.”