Buckingham Palace fears irreparable damage as a result of Prince Andrew’s sex lawsuit defence demanding his case go to a jury trial, according to reports.
Palace sources are said to be surprised at the Duke’s “shift in mood” after consistently telling his family there was little to no chance of him facing a civil trial in the US, according to the Daily Mirror.
It comes after Prince Andrew submitted legal arguments to court formally a string of sexual abuse allegations lodged by accuser Virginia Giuffre, in a move pushing proceeds closer to a tell jury trial later this year.
In the 11-page document the duke also denied that he was a “close friend” of Ghislaine Maxwell who was convicted last month of recruiting and grooming teenage girls for Epstein to abuse.
Buckingham Palace plans to push ahead with preparations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June as the Queen and the rest of the royal family “will do all they can” to not let Andrew’s legal woes ruin Her Majesty’s big year marking 70 years since her accession to the throne.
Media lawyer Mark Stephens said Andrew would also face detailed questions of a sexual nature if he gives evidence, whether in person or via video link, which could have far-reaching consequences for the wider royal family.
He said: “I can’t conceive that the royal family will allow him to run this case and overshadow the Platinum Jubilee.
“It’s going to spark debate about the relevancy and appropriateness of the royal family and we’ve already seen that they moved very fast to strip him of his titles and that debate abated but the more detail that comes out the more there’s going to be a problem for the wider royal family.”
Commenting on lurid details that may emerge from the trial, Mr Stephens added: “For example, questions will be asked of Virginia Giuffre about the prince’s body, any marks, his performance, what positions were adopted – every detail that is conceivable to ask and then that will be put to Andrew.”
He speculated the duke may still pull back from a trial to avoid the legal spectacle which could damage the standing of the monarchy in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.
He said: “The reason we think he’s got to settle is because of the timing. Essentially this case is going to take up the rest of this year and if it takes up the rest of this year, that’s the whole of his mother’s Platinum Jubilee.
“The only thing he could have done to stop this getting worse is to have pulled the case and stopped it in some way so there was no alternative news. This is going to be crippling if he really is dead set on running this to a trial.”
A source close to the proceedings also agreed that the case could be still be settled out of court. “The issue of settlement can never be wholly off the table,” they told The Times. “But I think their intentions are pretty clear judging by the latest filing — that they wish to see the matter resolved in court.”
The issue has begun to affect other members of the royal family, with the Duke of Cambridge facing a question about his uncle when he visited London’s Foundling Museum with his wife last week.
A broadcast journalist from Sky News asked Prince William “Do you support Andrew?” as the couple left, but he did not respond.
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