MIRROR ONLINE EXCLUSIVE LONDON, By Russell Myers, Royal Editor The King is facing renewed calls to ban Prince Andrew from all royal gatherings due to his involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
A source said yesterday there is “no way back” for Andrew. The disgraced Duke of York is once again at the centre of the story after he was named in legal files concerning his former friend and Epstein’s lover, sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell. Royal sources say King Charles is faced with making a dramatic U-turn on his decision to order his family to fall in line and welcome his brother back into the fold.
Senior royals – including Prince William, whom the King overruled – warned that Andrew’s appalling association with late convicted paedophile Epstein “will never go away” and is a direct threat to the future of the monarchy.
With family at The Queen’s funeral in 2022: PA
A royal source said: “The King has no option but to completely cut ties with Andrew. He will forever be tainted by his association with Epstein and despite his denials of wrongdoing, the constant drip of information about Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell is a stain on the Royal Family. There is no way back for him. Andrew should have no place in public alongside the King or any other member of the Royal Family.”
The Duke was forced to step down from royal life and stripped of his military appointments and patronages in 2019, after his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview. In it, he said he did not regret the friendship with Epstein due to the “opportunities I was given to learn” about business from the shamed financier. Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, claimed that she was forced to have sex with the prince on three occasions in 2001 when she was just 17 – claims which have resurfaced in the latest court documents to be unsealed by a judge in the US. The Duke has always denied any form of sexual relationship with Ms Giuffre.
He later said in a statement: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.” The King has on multiple occasions confronted his disgraced brother over the allegations, which led to the Duke paying £12million to Ms Guiffre to stop a civil trial taking place – the payment was not an admission of guilt.
With ex-wife Sarah and fans at Sandringham last month : AFP via Getty Images
Charles, 75, eventually relented on attempts to evict Andrew from his Royal Lodge residence at Windsor after stripping him of his £250,000 annual allowance. The Duke has no means of keeping up with the renovation payments desperately needed to the 30-bedroom mansion.
Andrew was buoyed by the show of support from his brother Edward when he appeared in his grand Knight of the Garter robes at the King’s Coronation in May 2023. He also accompanied the royals to church at Balmoral in the summer. Most recently, he celebrated Christmas at Sandringham with the King and Queen and their families, alongside his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who continues to be his lone public supporter despite their divorce in 1996.
The Duke of York meets well-wishers after attending the Christmas Day morning church service in Sandringham: PA
Sources close to Andrew say he had wanted to move on with his life, hoping to eventually find a way back into the royal fold, but was told by the late Queen and Charles there would be no chance of a full return.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, last year raised a bill in Parliament seeking to strip the prince of the Duke of York title, which he was given in 1986. The Labour member, 51, said: “Any public rehabilitation of the Duke of York is certainly not something the country as a whole would welcome at all.”
Anti-monarchy group Republic today urged Scotland Yard to reopen a probe into the Duke. Graham Smith, Republic’s CEO, said: “I have reported Andrew to the police, aware that the Met claims to have looked into this before. To date, there appears to have been no serious criminal investigation, no interview of the accused or other witnesses, and no clear justification for taking no action. I am calling on the Met to re-open this case. I am calling on MPs to debate this affair in Parliament. And I am calling on Charles to make a public statement – in front of the press and taking questions – to respond to these allegations and what they say about the monarchy.”
Comment from Mirror’s royal editor Russell Myers
What to do with a problem like Prince Andrew? It’s the unwelcome conundrum the Royal Family has faced for more years than they care to recall.
But now, the stakes are higher. Barely a year into his reign, King Charles faces an immediate decision on whether to perform a U-turn and banish his brother for good.
Deciding to bring the disgraced Duke in from the cold was almost entirely against public opinion, and much of his own family’s wishes. The King ordered his family to get on board and welcome Andrew back for the odd appearance – a decision which despite family bonds is looking increasingly erroneous.
But with the release of further damaging court documents in the United States, the Duke of York is toxic for the monarch. Now Andrew has weaselled his way back into engagements, be they the grandeur of the Coronation or the serenity of a Christmas walkabout, the elephant in the room cannot be ignored.
Despite Andrew’s denials of wrongdoing, there is no way he – or Charles – can be certain more scandal and tawdry allegations of misconduct or worse will not come out in the years to come. The sickening scandal of Epstein and his cronies is a dark episode that will not go away. Much like Prince Andrew and the baggage that surrounds him.