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A source close to the prince told The Daily Beast, “There is some wild speculation out there, which seems mostly to be informed by so-called ‘legal experts,’ but that’s all it seems to be—wild speculation.”
Lady Colin Campbell, the British author and socialite who has also been notable in publicly voicing support for Andrew, told The Daily Beast that she had been told the settlement was “five figures,” saying, “My understanding is that she (Giuffre) has been paid very little. The press love conflating figures and this story of a $14 million settlement has been put about by anti-monarchists in the British media.”
Lady Colin declined to elaborate on the source of her information, however she has a wide circle of aristocratic family and friends.
Lady Victoria Hervey, a British socialite and friend of Andrew’s who has remained one of his most prominent supporters, told The Daily Beast that she believed the $14 million settlement was “made up by the media” and said she believed that the true figure was much smaller, although she said she did not know the exact amount and again declined to cite her sources.
“$14 million is just nonsense. When Virginia couldn’t produce the photo that really changed things for Andrew,” said Hervey, who has promulgated a theory that the photo of Andrew and Giuffre in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London apartment was fake.
Andrew’s spokesperson and legal team declined to comment, as did Giuffre’s.
Both sides are bound by a confidentiality agreement. However, the British media has reported that Andrew had agreed to the giant payout to Giuffre. The Daily Telegraph first broke the story of the $14 million bill which Andrew reportedly faces.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Andrew’s friends and supporters would wish to promote an alternative narrative playing down the award, trying to spin some kind of win out of yet another dark, shaming chapter of Andrew’s life.
U.S. lawyer Christopher Melcher of Walzer Melcher, legal commentator and California attorney said: “There is no way it could be less than $10m or neither Virginia or her lawyers would have any incentive to settle. It has been extensively litigated so their bills are likely to be incredibly high. To think that it would be less than $10m would be ridiculous.”
Buckingham Palace has been resolutely silent on the matter, with official spokespersons and unofficial sources refusing to discuss the matter.
A spokesperson told The Daily Beast: “We have never commented on the financing arrangements of the Duke’s private legal matters and won’t be now.”
While Queen Elizabeth may have hoped the settlement would draw a line under the debacle, her reported decision to use her personal fortune to help Andrew has kicked off a new nightmare for the monarch, with newspapers demanding to know where the money has come from amid accusations that paying Andrew’s bills represents an abuse of public funds.
Duncan Larcombe, former royal correspondent for British tabloid The Sun, told The Daily Beast that the royals would be naïve to assume that a payout of any size to Giuffre meant the situation was now resolved.
“This has the potential to be the beginning of a new nightmare for the royals,” he said. “Virginia Giuffre could write a book and say in it everything she didn’t say in court. The pressure for him to be stripped of his dukedom is increasing—not least from the good people of York, who would like him to be called the duke of somewhere else. Reports his mum is paying the settlement have not gone down well.
“And there are still many more unanswered questions: Primarily, why is Andrew giving someone who, a few weeks he said he had never met, all this money?”
Larcombe says the scandal still has the potential to go down as one of the most damaging to hit the royal family in living history because it plays into a narrative of royal sleaze.
“Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t Prince Andrew’s only dodgy billionaire mate, he was maybe the only one who had an appetite for raping young girls. How did Andrew sell his house, Sunninghill, for millions above the asking price to a Kazakh billionaire? What about the businessman who lent him $2 million then wrote it off?
“The royals think because they have lots of money they can make these questions go away, but it doesn’t work like that. Pressure is mounting for a full-scale public inquiry into the behavior of the royals and people who worked with them.
“They’ve dodged a bullet and solved the short-term crisis but the worst could still be to come. This is not the end of it.”
Reports that the queen is helping Andrew to settle Giuffre’s claim have shone a spotlight on the source of the bulk of queen’s private earnings: a vast land and property holding called the Duchy of Lancaster that has been the personal estate of the reigning sovereign since 1399.
The Duchy of Lancaster files an annual report, so it’s slightly less opaque today than it was to the peasants of 1399. The estate comprises around 40,000 acres of land in rural England and Wales, as well as a considerable swathe of prime London real estate known as the Savoy Estate. It is a matter of public record that last year it made the queen a cool £23 million. The profits are taxed (but only thanks to a voluntary gesture by the queen).
To characterize the estate as a conventional private landholding, however, is something of a stretch. It has numerous, massive built-in, taxpayer-funded advantages, most crucially the fact that it can be passed from monarch to monarch without ever incurring a penny of inheritance tax, which is how big country estates are traditionally decimated.
Norman Baker, a former British government minister who specializes in untangling and exposing royal finances, most recently in his book And What Do You Do? What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know, told The Daily Beast: “My view is that the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster were improperly annexed by the Crown. But even if you assume it does belong to queen, when she pays money from it to her family to support their operations it is a business expense, so it gets set against tax. If she gives Andrew money from the Duchy of Lancaster, the taxpayer will be subsidizing his payment to Virginia Giuffre.
“They must make it clear where the money is coming from. If it is coming from the queen’s funds, then we need to know from which bit.”
However royal biographer Penny Junor defended the right of the queen to use the Duchy’s money to help Andrew settle the case and insisted the problems would eventually blow over: “It’s her own money and it’s her son, and I’m sure she believes he is innocent,” she said. “The queen is very good at taking a long-term view and the settlement means this will go away quicker than it otherwise would have. Crises come, and crises go.”