Who will pay Prince Andrew’s legal bills?

Earlier this month a New York judge ruled that Virginia Giuffre’s civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew could proceed. At the time, a BBC legal analyst suggested Andrew would probably prefer to settle the case rather than have to appear in court and be questioned under oath in a high profile trial. But that raises another obvious question. If Prince Andrew wants to settle the case, where will he get the money to do so?

Today the Washington Post did a deep dive on that question and it appears the Prince only has one significant asset left to his name, a Swiss chalet. As it happens he recently cleared a lien on the property which will allow him to sell it.

Andrew quietly cleared the way to sell his seven-bedroom Swiss lodge with an indoor swimming pool late last year, paying millions he owed the previous owner to remove a court claim that would have impeded putting the property on the market.

The Duke of York had for years failed to pay the final $8 million installment of the $29 million purchase, citing a lack of funds, said Isabelle de Rouvre, a French national who sold the property to Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, in 2014.

They finally came forward with the money two months ago, de Rouvre said, “only because they want to sell.” Noting Andrew’s mounting legal troubles, she said in an interview with The Washington Post, “you can see where [any proceeds] are going to go.”

The property is being sold but to whom and for how much is a mystery. However, a lawyer for some of Epstein’s victims has said selling the property may not be an effort to offer Giuffre a settlement. On the contrary, it could be seen as an effort to prevent her from claiming the property in a possible judgment.

…an attorney for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims has revealed the deal appears less about paying her off, more about preventing her from claiming on the Duke’s assets.

“If Virginia gets a judgment against Andrew, if this went all the way through to trial and she received a financial judgment in her favour, she could execute on any properties he has, the most likely being his ski chalet,” said lawyer Spencer Kuvin.

“If Andrew had properties in any companion country that would abide by such jurisdiction of the US, she can execute on those properties.”

In other words, assuming Giuffre wins her case, she could ask the government of Switzerland for the house to cover whatever judgment is reached. But if the house has been sold and the money disappears into a Swiss bank account, she’ll have a much harder time getting to it.

But again, that assumes it gets to the stage where a court orders an adverse judgment. It’s probably to Andrew’s advantage to avoid that outcome even if it means offering Giuffre a lot of money. Having covered this story for a while, I suspect Giuffre isn’t going to settle this case for any amount of money without an apology and some kind of admission. I could be wrong about that. I guess it would be hard for anyone to turn down $10 or $12 million dollars, but I think she genuinely wants an admission of guilt. Would Andrew be willing to go that far?

If all else fails, the queen could help bail Andrew out using her personal fortune. Here again, the same thinking applies. The queen may not want any part of this trial but if it comes down to giving Andrew money to end it or letting him be torn to shreds in the media in a way that drags her and her family into it anyway, she may reluctantly choose the former.

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