Prince Andrew: Cutting ties with Royal family only choice for man already found guilty in court of public opinion

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The 38-year-old mother of three claims Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in his New York mansion, in London, and on the late billionaire paedophile’s private island in the US Virgin Islands in 2001 when she was 17.

Having strenuously denied the claims since they first surfaced in 2015, it had been suggested that the Duke would want to avoid a pay off for fear it would imply guilt.

Yet with his reputation shot to pieces – and his military affiliations and Royal patronages now removed – he arguably has little left to lose. The Duke’s friends are urging him to fight to clear his name in court, but it is a high stakes gamble, especially considering the burden of proof in civil cases is “on the balance of probabilities”.

Both options are potentially financially ruinous – with talk of any settlement already at $5 million – ten times the amount Epstein paid Mrs Roberts Giuffre in 2009.

The Duke’s non-royal status may make it more difficult for the palace to justify the Queen contributing to his legal bills. And what happens to Andrew’s taxpayer funded bodyguards now is anyone’s guess.

The rumblings of this sorry saga started just before the Diamond Jubilee, when the Duke made what he later admitted was an “ill-judged” decision to maintain an association with Epstein following his release from prison.

After a decade of allegation and innuendo, this crisis has reached its peak in the foothills of another Jubilee – an unprecedented milestone for the Queen as she fast approaches 96.

In dethroning the Duke of York, the 95-year-old monarch has once again reminded her subjects that no one is bigger than the institution that she has stalwartly served for nearly seven decades.

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