Prince Andrew has amassed a £10 million ($12 million) war chest for a reported attempt to overturn his settlement with Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleged she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17.
British newspaper the Sun says that Andrew is funding the renewed effort in part with his inheritance from his mother, the queen, who died in September.
A royal source told the Sun: “Andrew was pressured into settling the case to avoid overshadowing the Platinum Jubilee and has paid a heavy price, personally and professionally.
“The king is happy for him to pursue this. As head of state, he can’t back him publicly, but Andrew is still his brother and he wants the best for him.”
Andrew is understood to have finally completed a deal to sell his Swiss chalet for £10 million last year, and the Sun says the queen left him “several million.”
He is being buoyed by a jailhouse interview with Ghislaine Maxwell, in which she said she thought the photo of Andrew with his arm around Giuffre, with Maxwell smirking in the background, was fake, a claim Andrew has long clung to.
Maxwell told documentary maker Daphne Barak: “I have no memory of them meeting. And I don’t think that picture is real. It is a fake. I don’t believe it is real for a second, in fact, I am sure it is not. There has never been an original, there is no photograph.”
Andrew, 62, is also said to be seeking permission from his brother the king to start using his HRH title again as he seeks to rehabilitate his image.
Andrew was effectively fired from the ranks of working royals by his mother in one of her last acts as queen. However, he is said to feel that he was “pressured” into standing down and settling with Giuffre by those who didn’t want the case to overshadow the Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year.
The terms of the settlement have remained secret, but it has been widely reported he paid around $14 million to settle with Giuffre but made no admission of guilt.
Andrew has always claimed, privately, that the photo is fake and while he has not been so explicit in public statements, he strongly implied as much to Emily Maitlis in a disastrous BBC Newsnight interview.
He said: “From the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph… Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored, but I don’t recollect that photograph ever being taken.”
Sources close to Giuffre’s legal team admitted to The Daily Beast last year that Giuffre had lost the photo, saying they didn’t even know if the original of the picture “still existed,” and adding, “The picture is not in Virginia’s possession.”
The photo was lost after apparently being stuffed into one of several storage boxes and shipped from Colorado to Sydney when Giuffre move to Australia, at some point between 2011 and 2016.
However, locating the original was not considered critical by Giuffre’s legal team as the provenance of the copies made of it was clearly established. The court action sought to admit a reproduction of the widely disseminated copy of the photo first published by the Mail on Sunday.
This “copy” was a photo of the original photo, taken by a freelance New Zealand photojournalist in 2011.
The photographer Michael Thomas previously told The Daily Beast he believed the photograph was genuine, saying, “At the end of the day, I just copied a photo.”
“Copying” a photograph by taking a photo of it is a standard news-gathering technique to obtain an image without requiring the owner to relinquish the original.
The legal source added at the time to The Daily Beast that they did not think the failure to produce an original of the photograph would affect the admissibility of the photo as evidence and said they thought it would not be “productive” for Andrew to challenge the authenticity of the image, adding, “That would destroy their credibility. Even Andrew in that BBC interview did not say it was fake.”
The source added, “The photo does not show them having sex. But it shows they were together. It shows they met. The more he fights about that photograph, the more he underscores the fact that the real credibility issue for him now is whether he ever met her. That’s a losing battle for him.”
Online sleuths have highlighted that Giuffre appears to be wearing exactly the same set of clothes in the photo with Andrew as she wore in a photo of her at a party to celebrate Naomi Campbell’s birthday.