Members Only | March 29, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Like Epstein, Andrew escapes justice
With a $15.7M settlement to avoid defending himself in civil court, the prince sorta kinda admits to abusing teenaged Virginia Giuffre.
In modern so-called first-class democracies, what’s the price of evading accountability for the class of supremely powerful elites? Well, more than $15.7 million, it seems, which is the approximate sum Prince Andrew paid to avoid facing Virginia Giuffre in civil court.
That’s a lot of money, considering Andrew protested his innocence throughout the saga. From his perspective, it’s a great deal of money to pay to a woman who had, according to his version of events, falsely accused him of abusing her, a former sex-trafficking victim, ruining his public image and damaging that of the wider royal family.
For so many in Britain, the royal family is presented as some kind of representative of real British values (whatever those are meant to be), with millions firmly believing the power they hold is symbolic, and that the royals actually serve some useful function in society. Fact is, they are an outdated economic drain on society funded by taxpayers, a relic of a shameful age and chapter in British history.
A few weeks after, Andrew’s in the headlines again. The British mainstream media is now presenting him as a defeated man, ousted from his family, punished by means of having his royal obligations and titles stripped. All this creates the impression that, although Andrew has been a bad boy, and we all know why, and although he never faced a judge and jury, he really has been punished, honestly he has.
In fact, it’s a royally deliberate exercise in damage control.
Jeffrey Epstein is said to have described Andrew as “low-hanging fruit,” as one of his most-prized contacts in his star-studded portfolio.
Andrew’s handling of events in the press, his energy, and attempted explanation for the excruciating car crash of an interview with the BBC – all this seems to match Epstein’s description of him.
A bit dim, and happy to keep associating with Epstein as a “working” member of the royal family, even after Epstein had been convicted of sex assault charges, a man operating in a different universe from the rest of us. Andrew is one of the obscenely rich for whom the world is their playground and the lives of ordinary human beings their sport.
Remarkably, the prince has acknowledged Giuffre was a victim of sex trafficking, having previously suggested the claims were a fabrication. He has vowed to support other victims – very noble for a man who described one of his own few character flaws as often being “too honorable.” This despite having previously suggested that the picture purportedly showing him with his arm around Giuffre as a teen, with Ghislaine Maxwell lurking in the background, was fake.
In reality, the accusations and evidence thrown at the prince lead only in one direction. It should also be said, according to the letter of the law, that Andrew is innocent of having committed any crime. He’s faced no court. It should be said the law, quite obviously, does not set the benchmark for deciding who’s innocent and who’s guilty.
Plenty of crimes of morality happen all the time that are perfectly legal while those who carried them out end up walking free.
Now, to be clear, if the paid settlement to Virginia Giuffre was what she wanted, more power to her. Her bravery is nothing short of heroic. I hope the money sets her family up very comfortably and helps pay for the support she needs following her trauma. While Andrew avoided court, his reputation is in tatters to the point that other royal family members have quietly disassociated themselves from him.
But here’s the thing that gets me.
For so many in Britain, the royal family is presented as some kind of representative of real British values (whatever those are meant to be), with millions firmly believing the power they hold is symbolic, and that the royals actually serve some useful function in society.
Fact is, they are an outdated economic drain on society funded by taxpayers, a relic of a shameful age and chapter in British history.
Their wealth was accumulated on the backs of others. Their image plays a central role in Britain’s image at home and abroad.
They are an institution and one of the most powerful in the world. Meghan Markle once described them as others have, as “the firm” that is more akin to a criminal syndicate than anything else.
Andrew might have paid millions of pounds to avoid proving his innocence, but this is chump change, a small price to avoid having one of their own face justice and democracies in a courtroom.
Just like Epstein, Andrew was never going to face justice.
Within a relatively short space of time, he’ll likely ease his way back into public life, having received no more than a slap on the wrist.
Richard Sudan covers human rights and American foreign affairs for the Editorial Board. Based in London, his reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Independent and others. Find him @richardsudan.