Reputation “highly tarnished” and a return!

The Duke of York faces an “uphill struggle” to combat the impact of the sex offences allegations made against him and has already lost in the court of public opinion, leaving his reputation “highly tarnished” and a return to royal duties impossible, experts have said.

Following a damaging two weeks in which Andrew’s accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre lodged a civil lawsuit in New York alleging he had sex with her when she was 17, and a source claimed he was a “person of interest” in the Jeffrey Epstein investigation, the duke is now caught “between a rock and a hard place,” said one expert.

There has been silence from Andrew – who denies all allegations against him – and his legal team over the latest twists in the long-running case. A day after Giuffre lodged her claims, he headed for Balmoral with his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, in time for the opening of the grouse shooting season.Advertisement

Buckingham Palace has consistently distanced itself from Andrew’s travails, referring any inquiries to the duke’s personal legal and PR teams. However, that the Queen invited him to Balmoral, and that she authorised him to lead public tributes after the death of Prince Philip, indicates her personal support, royal observers believe.

Prince Charles, who is staying at nearby Birkhall, his Scottish residence, has also remained publicly silent.

The gathering in Scotland should not necessarily lead to conclusions the family are addressing the crisis, said the royal author Penny Junor. “The Queen is not good at confrontation. I don’t think Charles enjoys it either. It may be they did nothing but talk about grandchildren. It’s not a family of communicators,” she said.

Of Andrew’s future, she said: “I think he does not really have a future as a working member of the royal family. Because, whatever the reality, the PR has been so bad that I think his reputation is damaged for ever. The public perception is he’s a condemned man.”

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