Ffirst, he claimed that he had never met her. Or at least, that he had “no recollection” of having done so.
“She had made allegations against you,” interviewer Emily Maitlis asked Prince Andrew in a 2019 interview with the BBC. “She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp Nightclub in London. She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your answer?”
The prince replied: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady. None, whatsoever.”
Then he was asked about a photograph from 2001, with his arm around the waist of a young woman – a girl, in truth – and a broad smile on his face. Virginia Giuffre said it was taken around the time of one of the three occasions she had sex with the British royal when she was asked just 17.
“I have no recollection of that photograph ever having been taken,” he said.
Was the photograph real?
“Oh it’s definitely me, I mean that’s a picture of me, it’s not a picture of… I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because… when I go out in London, I wear a suit and a tie,” said the prince.
“I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do. So that’s the best explanation I can give you and I’m afraid to say that I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested.”
He added: “It’s a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored.”
It is an old adage that a picture is often worth more than a thousand words. In the case of Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew, who she said was one of numerous friends of Jeffrey Epstein she was forced to have sex with, it certainly seems to be the case.
On Tuesday it was announced that Andrew, long said to have been the favorite child of Queen Elizabeth, had reached a settlement with Giuffre to settle her civil claim of sexual abuse.
As is the way with such things, there was no mention of the sum agreed to by the prince’s lawyers, and those working with Giuffre. And as is also the nature of such things, there was no admission of guilt or wrongdoing.
Prince Andrew: I stayed at convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s house because I am ‘too honorable’
The 61-year-old prince had always adamantly denied having assaulted her, while she equally adamantly insisted he had, once in London at the home of Maxwell, the long-term partner of disgraced financier Epstein, previously convicted of a sex crime and who took his life in jail in the summer of 2019 while on remand over dozens more charges of sex trafficking minors, allegations he had denied.
Giuffre also claimed she the prince had forced her to engage in sex acts against her will at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In addition, she said he had also abused her on another occasion, during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James.
“He knows what he’s done and he can attest to that,” Giuffre said of Andrew following Epstein’s suicide. “He knows exactly what he’s done, and I hope he comes clean about it.”
While there remains much we do not know, one thing appears clear – that Prince Andrew, or those advising him, perhaps even his own mother, wanted this very much to go away.
In the eyes of many, the settlement may leave a stain upon his image, despite there being no proof of wrongdoing. In January, when a court in New York ruled Giuffre’s case against him could proceed, the prince either gave up, or was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages.
Buckingham Palace also said Andrew would stop using the style His Royal Highness, and would no longer perform royal duties for the Queen.
But a calculation appears to have been made that there was a greater risk by having those allegations pored over in a New York court, with the prospect of the case, even a civil action, going against him.
Giuffre and her team must also have made some calculation.
For 20 years, she has had to deal with the trauma of whatever happened to her when she was among the group of women groomed by Maxwell and Epstein. Last November, a month before Maxwell was found guilty on five counts, of sex trafficking, Giuffre accused Andrew and his lawyers of making “baseless, defamatory attacks” against her in his court filings and said that he had tried to “blame and shame” her. (Maxwell is awaiting sentencing.)
“Defendant’s motion was intended to be, and was extensively used as, a press release to attack Ms Giuffre in the media,” wrote the lawyers for Giuffre. “Defendant dared to make his baseless, defamatory attacks on Ms Giuffre in his motion from him only because doing so in a court filing insulated him from the libel lawsuit that would otherwise result.”
As it was, on Tuesday, the language being used was much less abrasive.
In a joint filing accompanying news of the settlement, lawyers said Andrew would not only pay Giuffre an undisclosed sum, but that he also planned to make a substantial donation to Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.
“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks,” the filing said.
“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years. Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.
Intriguingly, a day before news of the settlement agreement was announced, it was reported by the I newspaper that lawyers for the prince had requested Giuffre hand over the original copy of that 2001 photograph. In what might have been another attempt to seek leverage, it was suggested the prince might seek to claim the photograph was fake.
Previously Giuffre, who in 2016 launched a civil action against Maxwell, said the photograph had been returned to her by the FBI and that she had packed it up with her other belongings when she moved from her former home in Colorado to Australia with her husband.
She told one of Maxwell’s lawyers: “I probably still have it. It’s not in my possession right now. It’s probably in some storage boxes.”