When New York attorney David Boies warned that his client Virginia Roberts Giuffre was poised to sue Prince Andrew for sexual assault last month, his law firm sent a letter to four attorneys, seeking eleventh-hour negotiations.
Boies could only hope that one of those lawyers actually represented the royal, as no one seems to be saying who does.
The July 19 letter sought to open financial negotiations between Prince Andrew and Giuffre, who was groomed as a “sex slave” by the late Jeffrey Epstein. She alleges that the prince sexually assaulted her beginning when she was 17 years old.
But the correspondence was met with silence — the same reaction Buckingham Palace has given to Giuffre’s allegations against Prince Andrew, 61, over the last five years.
After weeks of waiting for a response to his letter, Boies and his team filed suit in Manhattan federal court on Monday, accusing Prince Andrew in a bombshell federal civil complaint. The first hearing is set for Sept. 13.
Ignoring the law suit could cost Prince Andrew millions in damages and further erode what remains of his public life and royal career — not to mention that he could effectively be barred from entering the US as well as other countries. And if he’s found in contempt of court, he could also risk arrest.
But sources say that the palace doesn’t deem the claim against Prince Andrew worthy of any response.
“The royal family will not respond to extortion,” said a source close to the family. “And this lawsuit is all about money.”
Giuffre, 38, alleges she was trafficked to the prince between 2000 and 2002 by convicted pedophile Epstein and his former gal pal, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is awaiting her own sex trafficking trial in a federal lock-up in Brooklyn. Both Maxwell and Epstein, who committed suicide in prison two years ago, were friends of the prince, and Andrew continued to socialize with Epstein even after the financier pleaded guilty to soliciting an underage prostitute in Florida in 2008.
When Andrew, who has fiercely denied the rape accusations, did try to address them head-on in a 2019 BBC television interview, the results were deemed so damaging to Queen Elizabeth’s purported favorite son that the palace returned to its code of silence, an insider told The Post.
The tactic continues to frustrate Giuffre and her high-powered legal team, as well as US law enforcement. The latter have tried to enlist the prince’s help in their investigation into Epstein’s alleged exploitation of dozens of young women and girls.
In March 2020, Geoffrey S. Berman, the former US Attorney in Manhattan, said that Prince Andrew had “completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation,” even after he had pledged to work with US authorities in the sex-trafficking probe against Epstein and Maxwell. At the time, lawyers for Blackfords LLP, a powerful London firm, said that the prince had offered to help on three separate occasions but had been rebuffed.
“I really don’t understand why [Andrew’s] counsel have not responded,” said Boies in an interview with Sky News this week. “I have never had a case in which you have serious claims against someone and seek to discuss them prior to bringing a lawsuit, where the defendant didn’t at least want to try to convince us not to bring the lawsuit.”
Buckingham Palace had no comment on the lawsuit.
“[Prince Andrew’s lawyers] are playing their cards close to their chests,” said author Lady Colin Campbell, who has published several books about the royal family. “Everyone in England knows this lawsuit is all about money. It’s a money grab and nothing more.”
If the official stonewalling does continue, and Andrew doesn’t respond to the federal complaint, he risks the court ruling against him. And while Giuffre’s lawsuit does not specify any dollar amounts, the prince could find himself having to shell out millions of dollars in damages if he does not appear in court to defend himself, legal experts say.
“Instead of going through a trial, if a defendant fails to appear to assert a defense, the court issues a default judgment,” said Luke McGrath, a litigation partner at a Manhattan law firm and a former New York State prosecutor. “After an inquest to determine the amount of damages, the default judgment becomes final and enforceable in New York and, with a few extra steps, also enforceable in England.”
The prince cannot be compelled to show up for the trial or be extradited from the UK because it is a civil case and not a criminal matter, said McGrath, although royal titles do not protect him from prosecution either.
But Boies, who once defended former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein against hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse, told British reporters that “it would be very ill-advised for Prince Andrew to ignore judicial process”.
“If he does, it will be a default judgement against him that will be, in effect, enforced not only in the United States, but in virtually every civilized country in the world,” he said.
If Andrew dared travel to the US, he risks being detained and served — and if he doesn’t answer, the prince could be held in contempt of court and even arrested. He could also be in contempt of court if he doesn’t pay damages.
And Prince Andrew’s public life and career may well be over.
As news of the lawsuit hit this week, he headed to Balmoral, the Queen’s summer home in Scotland, along with his ex-wife and confidante Sarah Ferguson. Their daughter Eugenie was also seen heading to the Scottish retreat in a show of support for her beleaguered father, who has lost more than 200 royal patronages since the Epstein scandal broke.
Although Andrew had been hoping for an imminent return to public life, he is again locked in talks with family and royal attorneys. Gary Bloxsome, a partner at Blackfords and a high-powered criminal defense attorney, is reportedly the mastermind behind Buckingham Palace’s response in the Epstein scandal. A court bio notes that his “current instructions include advising an individual (in the UK ) in the highest profile US investigation into trafficking young females worldwide.”
“The Prince of Wales and William feel that Andrew should have made an assertive response early on,” said Lady Colin. “But what he is doing now is the sensible course of action. He has already previously denied he slept with her [Giuffre]. His lack of response now is the response.”
According to the lawsuit, Andrew sexually abused Giuffre at “numerous locations,” including at Maxwell’s London home, Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion and on his private island in the Caribbean. The lawsuit includes a March 2001 photograph of the prince standing with his arm around Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, while Maxwell stands to one side of them in her home in London’s Belgravia neighborhood.
Giuffre, now a mother of three and living in Australia, said she met the prince that night, and after dining and dancing at a London nightclub, they returned to Maxwell’s home where Giuffre was forced to have sex with the prince, according to the lawsuit.
Giuffre “was compelled by express or implied threats by Epstein, Maxwell, and/or Prince Andrew to engage in sexual acts with Prince Andrew, and feared death or physical injury to herself or another and other repercussions for disobeying Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew due to their powerful connections, wealth, and authority,” the lawsuit claims.
Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, has long been a source of embarrassment to the royal family, especially during his decade-long role as a business envoy for the UK government, a job that ended in 2011 as details emerged of his close friendship with Epstein. He was appointed the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment in 2001 after retiring from the Royal Navy.
But even before his relationship with Epstein was made public, Andrew came under intense criticism for his alliances with shady characters — including former Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy and convicted Libyan gun smuggler Tarek Kaituni, who he invited to his daughter Eugenie’s 2018 wedding.
He also came under fire for hosting the son-in-law of Tunisia’s president at Buckingham Palace, three months before the dictatorial regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali collapsed in 2011. Andrew’s relationship with Kazakhistan oligarch Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the former Kazahk president, raised eyebrows when the prince sold Sunninghill, his former estate and a gift from the Queen, to the energy tycoon for $4 million over the asking price in 2007.
Now, Boies is working on how he will actually serve Prince Andrew personally with the court papers — a task he admitted to The Telegraph Friday would be “difficult.” Boies needs to serve Andrew before the beginning of a three-week deadline before the first court date next month. “We present him with a copy of the complaint in a formal way,” Boies told the newspaper. “Because he is a foreign citizen, we have to do this under the Hague Convention.”
Whether Andrew chooses to respond or not, Giuffre’s allegations have effectively scuttled the prince’s chances of returning to his royal duties, which he was said to be contemplating before the news of the lawsuit broke.
His older brother Prince Charles, who is next in line to the throne, believes that the Giuffre scandal is “an unsolvable problem” and career-ending for Andrew, according to a source cited by the Times of London.
This week, London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that the department is reviewing its files on the matter, although she stopped short of saying that it is opening an investigation into Prince Andrew.
“As a result of what’s going on, I’ve asked my team to have another look at the material,” she told British radio LBC. She added that she is open to working with authorities from the US and elsewhere.
Said Dick: “No one is above the law.”