On Thursday, a batch of 2015 court documents from a settled civil defamation suit filed by Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) against Ghislaine Maxwell was unsealed by a judge.
In her depositions, Giuffre, who accused billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his long-time associate Maxwell of abusing her, alleged that the pair forced her into having sex with numerous men including Prince Andrew, something that the British royal vehemently denies.
The Duke of York's ties with the convicted sex offender Epstein have created a lot of embarrassment for the Royal Family prompting the prince to retire from public life in November 2019. In February 2020, Prince Andrew's name was removed from Pitch@Palace, the startup-mentoring platform founded by him in 2014.
US Prosecutors Want Prince Andrew to Provide 'Some Evidence'
Meanwhile, US federal prosecutors are pushing ahead with the criminal investigation into Epstein's alleged co-conspirators and are seeking to interview the British royal.
"We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us", Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss told reporters while announcing Maxwell's arrest on 2 July 2020. "Our doors remain open".
Remember that famous Prince Andrew photo with Ghislaine Maxwell and the victim?— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) July 31, 2020
The FBI had their own copy for years - even before the victim's 2011 FBI interview.
The FBI knew. They always knew. pic.twitter.com/A5TjKt4Kf7
However, the Duke of York as of yet has seemed unwilling to testify before DOJ prosecutors for which he was previously rebuked by US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. On 8 June, Berman officially stated that the prince had repeatedly declined requests to schedule an interview while "falsely portray[ing] himself" as "eager and willing to cooperate".
Speaking to Fox News in early June, Attorney General William Barr made it clear that there were no plans to make a formal request for Prince Andrew to be handed over to authorities: "I think it's just a question of having him provide some evidence", Barr noted.
A month later during an interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas, Barr again signaled that the US Justice Department wants to talk to the Duke of York.
Additionally, some 53% of American respondents quizzed by pollsters Redfield and Wilton Strategies said they want the prince extradited to the US to answer questions about Epstein and Maxwell whom he knew for quite a while.
"I think the Queen will do all she can to stop Andrew’s extradition", says Alan Bailey, a UK-based political commentator. "You can bet a lot of communication will be going on in back channels trying to smooth the waters over this and ensure that he is not (at least publicly) quizzed on his involvement both with Epstein and underage girls".
Queen Elizabeth II apparently forced Prince Andrew into resigning but it does not mean that she will give her son up, according to the commentator.
At the same time, if the British government decides to hand the prince over to the US authorities the queen does not have any power to prevent this course of events, Bailey notes.
"However, the royals have many supporters in high places and will no doubt be bringing all influence to bear to stop any extradition proceedings", he suggests. "My guess is the plan will be to delay and delay extradition proceedings starting until the case is (from their point of view) forgotten or overtaken by other events".
How Elizabeth II Dealt With a 'Nazi Sympathiser' and a 'Soviet Spy'
The British monarch has faced even more complicated issues. For instance, her uncle, Edward VIII, also known as the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the British throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The duke and his wife were also known for harbouring pro-Nazi sympathies and even paying an unofficial visit to Adolf Hitler in 1937.
Nevertheless, Queen Elizabeth II has never vilified the Duke of Windsor and wrote in a telegram on the day of his death: "I know that my people will always remember him with gratitude and great affection and that his services to them in peace and war will never be forgotten".
She treated Anthony Blunt (surveyor of the Queen's pictures and distant relative) much in the same vein after MI5 found out in 1964 that he was a Soviet spy and one of the famous "Cambridge Five" group. The Royal Family's chief art curator was not prosecuted. Blunt was stripped of his knighthood and removed as an honorary fellow of Trinity College only after then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher outed him in speech to the House of Commons in November 1979.
Still, the unfolding dilemma is not so much ethical as it is political, according to the commentator. He presumes that Prince Andrew's potential extradition or involvement in the Maxwell-Epstein court proceedings could "shake the royal establishment to the core".
"Though the [royals'] power is on the wane, they still feel they can be held up as an example of ‘Britishness’ across the world and by the UK population itself", he says.
In addition to this, the potential extradition of a member of the Royal Family would amount to "a loss of, let’s say, stature" of post-Brexit Britain, according to the commentator.
"We Brits do like to think of ourselves as a sovereign and independent nation, though we certainly worry that we are becoming the 51st state of the US", Bailey says. "Those of us who like to think with a more questioning mind know that we are already incredibly dependent on the US, and though we may make a show occasionally of disagreeing with Washington, the way Huawei has been treated shows that when push comes to shove, we do Washington’s bidding".
The UK government succumbed to pressure from Washington to get rid of Huawei 5G equipment by 2027, even though Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously planned to use the Chinese telecom giant's kit in the country's 5G networks, saying in January 2020 that "the British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology".
"Simply because we have allowed ourselves and our industry to become so entrenched with the US we have no way to resist pressures if the US really wants us to do something", Bailey admits.
'Edward VIII is Close Second to Prince Andrew'
"Prince Andrew is forever tarnished in a way possibly no previous royal ever has been though Edward VIII who abdicated to marry an American divorcee and was friendly with the Nazi German leadership is certainly a close second the more people know of him!", the commentator highlights.
The Duke of York "is being almost blanked out of people’s minds and a lost cause", according to him.
"I don’t think many will care what happens to him now apart from staunch monarchists", Bailey says while commenting on whether the British public wants Prince Andrew to be brought to justice.
According to YouGov polls, 77% of British respondents opined that US prosecutors' requests to speak to Prince Andrew should be granted, while 10% held an opposite stance in June. In February, 69% of Britons said that he should go to the US to face FBI questioning about his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. A month earlier, in January, 79% admitted that the Duke of York should fully cooperate with the FBI over the investigation into the paedophile billionaire. A survey, carried out after the prince's November 2019 interview with the BBC about Epstein in which the royal categorically denied the sex claims, indicated that only 6% of Brits believed Prince Andrew’s account of his friendship with the convicted sex offender, 51% said they don’t believe him, and 43% were "unsure".