Princess Beatrice could be called as witness in Prince Andrew sexual abuse case

·5 min read
Princess Beatrice (L) has privately supported her father, Prince Andrew (R) - FD/Newspix international
Princess Beatrice (L) has privately supported her father, Prince Andrew (R) - FD/Newspix international

Princess Beatrice is braced to be dragged into her father's sexual abuse case.

The 33-year-old has emerged as a key witness, as the Duke of York alleges he was with his daughter at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night at the centre of the claims against him.

Lawyers for Prince Andrew’s accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, have revealed they plan to seek depositions from two British witnesses, who are people “close to Andrew who would have knowledge of his actions”.

Lawyers for both sides were on Friday preparing to release their lists of potential witnesses.

The disclosure that another member of the Royal family is set to become embroiled in the case comes just a day after the Queen stripped her second son of all military titles and patronages. He can also no longer use the style of His Royal Highness in any official capacity.

The Duke’s attempt to have the case dismissed on a technicality was rejected by a New York judge this week, leaving him facing a civil trial by jury.

Prince Andrew's daughters are said to be shaken by their father's case - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
Prince Andrew's daughters are said to be shaken by their father's case - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Ms Giuffre, 38, has sued Prince Andrew for unspecified damages, claiming she was forced to have sex with the Duke on three separate occasions in 2001 when she was 17. She insisted that he “must be held accountable” for his actions, as she welcomed the court ruling and the chance to “expose the truth”. Prince Andrew has denied all her claims.

The prospect of his closest family members having to face questioning from Ms Giuffre’s formidable legal team is an uncomfortable one for Prince Andrew. David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, has been dubbed the “great inquisitor” because of his skill at soliciting information.

He has already indicated that those he would seek to question in the Duke’s case “might include his ex-wife” and could even include his brother, the Prince of Wales.

Princess Beatrice is one of the few people who could corroborate the Duke’s alibi for the night Ms Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with him after being trafficked to London.

Sarah Ferguson - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Sarah Ferguson - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

She was thrust into the spotlight when her father told an audience of millions glued to the BBC’s Newsnight in November 2019 that he had taken her to a party on the night in question.

He remembered it “weirdly distinctly”, he said, because going to Pizza Express in Woking was an unusual thing for him to do. The revelation positioned Princess Beatrice, who was 12 at the time, at the centre of his defence. However, there have been claims that she has “absolutely no recollection” of the party.

The Duchess of York, who was abroad at the time, was also mentioned by the Duke during the television interview and could also be called to give evidence about his movements, as well as his claim that he could not sweat.

The Duchess of York has been one of Prince Andrew’s lone defenders in recent years, repeatedly voicing her loyalty and respect for him in public. Although the Duke and Duchess divorced in 1996, they still live together and she has remained stubbornly loyal.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, while both shaken by the case, have also privately supported their father.

Virginia Giuffre - Crime+Investigation/PA
Virginia Giuffre - Crime+Investigation/PA

Meanwhile, the Duke is preparing for his own deposition which is scheduled for February and will be taken on camera, under oath, in London, lasting up to seven hours.

Mr Boies and his colleague, Sigrid McCawley, are expected to fly to the UK for the interview.

Given the Duke’s disastrous performance on Newsnight in November 2019, he will undergo rigorous legal training in preparation, with mock depositions orchestrated by his own lawyers.

Both sides have agreed a draft protective order that outlines which documents and sensitive information obtained in the discovery process will remain confidential.

They include medical records, phone numbers, tax returns, banking information and the names of alleged underage victims of sexual abuse. Portions of deposition transcripts can also be designated confidential.

The Duke had made an “unprecedented” request for all witness testimony to be kept secret, even if neither party declared the evidence confidential. But Ms McCawley said there was “no logic or authority” for such a provision.

Prince Andrew - Kelvin Bruce
Prince Andrew - Kelvin Bruce

A source close to the Duke has insisted that he will “continue to defend himself” against the allegations, describing the process as a “marathon not a sprint”.

However, the legal situation is understood to remain “fluid” and the option of a hefty financial settlement remains on the table.

Crisis talks have begun in earnest to determine the specific terms of a potential deal, which the Duke would want to be signed off before his deposition.

Mr Boies has indicated that a public apology would have to form the plank of any agreement but for the Duke, who has denied the claims, any acceptance of liability is off the table.

Although he is now defending the case as a “private citizen”, the monarch would have to sanction such a significant legal move.

Separately, the Prince of Wales on Friday refused to answer questions about the sexual abuse scandal engulfing his brother as he toured a storm-hit country estate in Aberdeenshire.

Prince Charles - Kami Thomson/PA
Prince Charles - Kami Thomson/PA

Prince Charles was asked to comment on the Duke’s position barely 24 hours after he was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages and told he could no longer use his HRH title.

The decision, announced by Buckingham Palace, was taken following lengthy discussions between the Queen and her two heirs, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, who were united in their desire to protect the monarchy.

He glanced up briefly as a Sky News journalist asked on camera for his view on his brother's position, but continued walking and ignored the question.