Prince Charles has been spotted out on a solemn drive in the Scottish Highlands this afternoon – before he faces crisis talks with other senior royals about his brother Prince Andrew‘s sex abuse lawsuit in the US.
The heir to the throne, 72, was behind the wheel of a Range Rover as he made his way past the Balmoral estate back to his own neighbouring Birkhall residence with just an aide for company.
It is believed he had earlier travelled to a remote spot in the beautiful Aberdeenshire surroundings before making his way back three hours later.
The Prince of Wales had been touring Scotland as part of his latest round of royal engagements with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and arrived at Birkhall yesterday.
It comes as senior royals gather at The Queen’s Scottish holiday home Balmoral Castle in the wake of the sex abuse allegations lobbied against disgraced Prince Andrew by Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre.
The Duke of York, 61, had already arrived in Balmoral where he faced his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday after news of the sensational law suit broke.
It has since emerged that the disgraced royal is unlikely to attend Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, marking her 70th year as head of state, next summer should he still be embroiled in the incendiary civil case launched by Virginia Roberts in New York earlier this week.
The news comes as the head of Scotland Yard, Dame Cressida Dick, warned British police would assist any enquiries into the Duke’s sex abuse allegations.
Prince Charles, 72, was spotted out on a solemn drive past Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands this afternoon ahead of crisis talks with other senior royals about his brother Prince Andrew’s sex abuse lawsuit in the US
It is believed The Prince of Wales had earlier travelled to a remote spot in the beautiful Aberdeenshire surroundings before making his way back three hours later, with only an aide for company
Prince Charles is understood to be heading to his Birkhall estate, next to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, with the family facing fresh crisis over Prince Andrew’s fresh ‘rape’ accusation
Other members of the royal family are already congregating at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire (pictured). The Queen, on her first trip to the castle after the death of her husband Prince Philip, arrived this week to a guard of honour in a small ceremony outside the castle gates
Her Majesty The Queen, 95, arrived for her traditional summer holiday at Balmoral on Monday. She is seen here during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gate
The Met TWICE ruled out a criminal investigation into claims Jeffrey Epstein paid Virginia Roberts $15,000 to fly to the UK for sex with Prince Andrew – will the third review have the same result?
Scotland Yard has repeatedly been criticised over its decision not to carry out a full criminal investigation the bombshell allegations first made in 2015 by Virgina Roberts.
She claims that at 17-years-old she was flown to London by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and coerced into having sex with the Duke, three times.
It was claimed UK incident took place at the Kensington town house of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former lover and a close friend of the Duke. Andrew is also accused of having sex with Virginia in New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean, nicknamed ‘paedo island’ because of the scale of Epstein’s abuse there.
The prince strenuously denies her claims, and said previously he doesn’t remember meeting Virginia despite a photograph existing of them together.
Other alibis he gave included being in Pizza Express in Woking with his daughter. Virginia said he was sweaty during sex – Andrew said this wasn’t possible because he stopped sweating during the Falklands War.
Epstein killed himself in his US prison cell while awaiting trial for new sex offences.
Review one (2015)
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon made the initial decision to shelve the complaint by Miss Roberts – now Giuffre – six years ago.
At the time he was the commander in charge of specialist crime investigations.
Virginia alleged Epstein paid her $15,000 to have sex with the Duke in London.
Andrew and the then 17-year-old were also photographed together with his arm round her waist with Ghislaine Maxwell grinning behind them. The Duke’s supporters have repeatedly claimed the photo is fake and edited, which he suggested himself in his disastrous Newsnight interview in 2019.
Review two (2019)
The Met confirmed in August 2019 a second review had been carried out and was made by Alex Murray, now the Met Police Commander for Specialist Crime.
It was sparked when court documents associated with a defamation case between Giuffre and Maxwell revealed that a second girl, Johanna Sjoberg, who gave evidence alleging that Andrew had placed his hand on her breast while in Epstein’s mansion posing for a photo with his Spitting Image puppet.
Commander Murray defended his position not to launch an inquiry. The force added officers had spoken to other law enforcement agencies but have ‘not received a formal request asking for assistance’.
He remains in charge of specialist crime, and is expected to carry out the third review ordered by Cressida Dick today.
Senior royal sources told the Telegraph that Andrew may have his military titles stripped and will not be present at his mother’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations next June should the rape accusations linger.
A royal aide said: ‘He will not be able to take part in Trooping the Colour next year if the Epstein scandal is still hanging over him, an no one can see this going away soon.
‘He will have to be replaced. How could he possibly retain his military titles?’
Charles had previously warned Andrew would be consigned to the wilderness – whatever the outcome of the lawsuit he now faces – because of the reputational damage done by his links to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The future king is among the senior royals who have privately expressed concern over the handling of the Duke of York’s latest legal crisis as it emerged it could overshadow the Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee.
A source told The Times: ‘The prince loves his brother and has the ability to have sympathy for the slings and arrows that his brother endures, whatever the reasons may be.’
The source added: ‘However, this will be unwelcome reputational damage to the institution.
‘He has long ago concluded that it is probably an unsolvable problem.’
The Daily Mail understands that both Charles and Prince William have doubts about the way such serious allegations have been dealt with by Andrew and his legal team.
More than 48 hours after Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s attorney in the US began civil proceedings accusing the 61-year-old royal of ‘rape in the first degree’, sexual battery and sexual abuse, there has been no reaction from Andrew’s camp.
On Monday, Prince Andrew arrived in Balmoral for a summer holiday with the Queen – just 24 hours after a bombshell US lawsuit accused him of sex abuse.
The beleaguered royal and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, drove into the monarch’s private Scottish estate for their annual August jaunt while his lawyers held crisis talks over the case launched by Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
She alleged she was sexually abused by Andrew when she was 17 and that he knew she was the teenage victim of sex trafficking.
Miss Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with him and was ‘lent out for sexual purposes’ by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Yesterday a lawyer described the legal action as a ‘grenade waiting to go off’.
Andrew, 61, has yet to make any public comment about the lawsuit and instead travelled to Scotland with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.
The Queen’s second son stepped back from royal duties over his relationship with late financier Epstein and insiders said the lawsuit effectively ended any ambition he held of a return to public life.
Andrew, who normally flies to Aberdeen by private jet for his visits to Balmoral, appeared to have taken steps to avoid photographers this time after apparently flying to a different airport, or even driving the whole way.
The pressure on Prince Andrew to co-operate with the FBI was further cranked up today as the head of Scotland Yard said British police are ready to help foreign detectives and ordered a fresh review into the Duke of York’s sex abuse allegations, declaring: ‘No one is above the law.’
Dame Cressida Dick revealed a third review into the claims that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked a 17-year-old girl to the UK for sex with Andrew is underway.
But she insisted no Metropolitan Police formal investigation into the royal is taking place with the American authorities currently treating him as a witness rather than a suspect.
The Met has already twice ruled out a full investigation into claims young women and girls were alleged to have been targeted, trafficked, groomed, or abused in the UK by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell .
One of those victims, Virginia Roberts, claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s behest three times, including once at Maxwell’s London mews house, and paid $15,000 after being flown to the UK on her billionaire captor’s private jet, nicknamed the ‘Lolita Express’.
Andrew has been accused by Ms Roberts of ‘publicly feigning ignorance about the scope of Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation and sympathy for Epstein’s victims’ and then refusing to cooperate with the FBI, who he has been encouraged to speak to for years.
Prince Charles, 72, was spotted alongside Camilla heading towards his Birkhall estate near Balmoral yesterday. He could be set for an awkward encounter with Prince Andrew, after the Duke of York faced fresh rape accusations earlier this week
The Prince of Wales (above) had been touring Scotland as part of his latest round of royal engagements, and was pictured at Scrabster Beach in Thurso, Caithness last month
Prince Andrew has been spotted arriving at Balmoral Castle accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson – as he prepares to face the Queen a day after being sued in New York for allegedly sexually abusing Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts
Andrew, who was driving a Range Rover, held a stern expression while the Duchess of York appeared to be holding conversation while sat in the back seat
Andrew’s arrival at Balmoral comes as the lawyer for Epstein victim Virginia Roberts accused the Prince of ‘ignoring’ him after a civil suit was filed against him Monday. The Duke of York has always vehemently denied charges made by Virginia Roberts
How Prince Andrew, 61, can still be tried for sex abuse claims in civil case even if he never steps foot back in America
Prince Andrew is under no obligation to travel to America to defend himself against the allegations – which he has repeatedly denied – because courts can’t extradite citizens in civil cases.
But legal experts say if he choses not to take part in the case, he could still face a trial in the civil courts in his absence.
Before it reaches that stage, however, experts say that the Duke could instruct US lawyers to try and strike out Ms Roberts’ law suit by claiming it to be ‘spurious’.
If a judge throws out the case, then Prince Andrew will not need to attend anyway.
But if a judge decides the case should be heard, then a civil jury is likely to be called, according to Aamer Anwar – a civil rights lawyer and activist from Scotland.
Mr Anwar says that if the Duke choses not to appear, the trial could go ahead in absentia – his absence. If the jury rules in Ms Roberts favor, Mr Anwar says Prince Andrew could be forced to pay damages ‘into the millions and millions of dollars’.
After looking at any possible US assets, Mr Anwar says the courts could then apply to claim assets in Britain through the UK courts – in a way similar to how foreign assets are seized in high profile divorce cases.
He also believes that any judgment against Prince Andrew in the US could put pressure on UK authorities to take action – with one of the sex abuse claims made by Ms Roberts allegedly taking place in London.
Ms Roberts, now known as Virginia Giuffre, is now suing Andrew in a New York court for alleged ‘rape in the first degree’, sexual battery and sexual abuse, claiming she thought she’d be murdered by Epstein if she didn’t sleep with Andrew.
When asked about the decision to sue Andrew in the US, Dame Cressida told LBC: ‘Nobody is above the law. As a result of what’s going on I’ve asked my team to have another look at the material.’
And giving tacit confirmation the Met would work with US law enforcement, including the FBI, if needed, she said: ‘We are of course open to working with authorities overseas, we will give them every assistance if they ask us for anything within the law obviously’.
The review is likely to involve detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime unit looking at the force’s existing case files ‘in consultation with the CPS’ – but not interviewing alleged victims, witnesses or suspects or looking for new lines of inquiry.
The Duke of York is out in the cold today as it was reported that his older brother Prince Charles believes his brother will never return to public life.
The Daily Mail understands that both Charles and Prince William have doubts about the way such serious allegations have been dealt with by Andrew and his legal team.
Legal experts said the civil case could drag on for years and threatened to be a millstone around Andrew’s – and the Royal Family’s – neck for years to come.
A US lawyer warned the lawsuit would be devastating for the prince’s reputation and could force him to answer questions about his own sexual history, as well as his relationship with Epstein.
Miss Roberts’ legal team could interrogate Andrew over whether he had faced any allegation of sexual misconduct or impropriety in the past, a US lawyer told the Daily Mail.
They would also be entitled to demand access to any communications between him, Epstein and the convicted sex offender’s alleged ‘madam’, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. The lawyer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It will be a train wreck for him. This case is a grenade waiting to go off.’
Andrew has 21 days to respond to Miss Roberts’ claim and if he fails to do so, she could ask the court to find in her favour without the need for a trial, which would be potentially disastrous for his reputation.
It would raise the prospect of the ninth in line to the throne being branded a sex offender, and facing a demand for damages which could run into millions of pounds.
Such an outcome would cause enormous personal distress to the 95-year-old Queen but would also leave an indelible ‘stain’ on the reputation of the Royal Family, according to one royal expert.
Last night Buckingham Palace declined to comment and referred all inquiries to the Duke of York’s legal team.
In the legal claim, lawyers said Epstein, Maxwell and the prince had all forced Miss Roberts to have sex with Andrew against her will after she was trafficked to London.
They alleged Andrew also sexually abused the teenager at Epstein’s mansion in New York and at his private island in the US Virgin Islands, Little Saint James.
The legal document, filed to a court in New York, said Miss Roberts, now 38 and a married mother-of-three known by her married name Virginia Giuffre, had suffered ‘severe and lasting’ damage.
The lawsuit went on: ‘In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law’s protection.
Prince Charles, 72, and William, 39, also both fear the scandal could irrevocably damage the reputation of the monarchy, insiders say (file image)
Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank pictured on their way to Balmoral to join her beleaguered father Prince Andrew after a bombshell US lawsuit accused him of sex abuse
Pictured: Princess Eugenie arrives at Balmoral castle on August 11
The Duke of York’s younger daughter will be at The Queen’s Scottish Highlands holiday home amid crisis talks for the senior royals after Virginia Roberts, a victim of paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, accused him of rape in court documents filed on Monday
‘Twenty years ago Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account.’
Miss Roberts’ lawyer David Boies told Channel 4 News he had made repeated attempts to contact Andrew about the case, but claimed the prince and his lawyers had ‘stonewalled’ and ignored him.
Prince Andrew has ex-wife Fergie at his side after Duchess is brought back into royal fold
As Prince Andrew is again hit by accusations of sexual abuse from Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts, he appears to have an unlikely companion at his side.
In one of the most dramatic cases of royal redemption, the Prince’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson is accompanying him to Balmoral where he will face his mother for the first time since a civil suit was filed against him in New York.
Fergie was exiled from the firm following her divorce from Andrew in 1996.
The Duchess of York has however become a lodger at her ex-husband’s Royal Lodge home in Windsor, and has slowly but surely been welcomed back into the fold.
And last week, the Mail revealed that Fergie had been invited to stay at the Queen’s Scottish retreat this summer.
There will also be a major difference because, unlike previous visits, when she had to make a quick getaway before Prince Philip arrived, the Duchess can stay at Balmoral for as long as her ex-husband
It is believed The Queen has appreciate the loyalty that Sarah has demonstrated to the Royal Family since her divorce and has been impressed by the close relationship she has maintained with Andrew, 61.
She told the Financial Times: ‘I want him [Andrew] to come through this. I want him to win.’
When asked why she was sure of his probity, she replied: ‘No question. I know everything about him. I think he is an extraordinary person.’
The Duchess said she and Andrew, who split in 1996, were ‘the happiest divorced couple in the world’, living under the same roof at Royal Lodge, Windsor, but with their own rooms.
‘We support each other like pillars of strengths,’ she added.
Mr Boies said: ‘We’ve made every effort to reach out to him to hear his side of the story to understand whether he has anything that he can say that would put his actions in context.
‘And he has simply ignored us, and he can do that, but he can’t ignore judicial process.
‘This is now a matter for the courts to decide. And it would be very ill advised I think for anyone to sort of thumb their nose at a federal court. If he did, obviously there would be a default judgment entered against him, which I think no one really wants to have happen.’
He added: ‘They just have totally stonewalled, they have refused to provide any explanation, they refuse to engage in any discussions, they refuse to provide any facts. They’ve even refused to respond to any of the allegations that been made in any reasonable way.’
Referring to the now-infamous photograph of the prince with his arm around Miss Roberts, he said a jury would have to consider if Andrew had been truthful about whether they had met. Her case is a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages – not a criminal case.
But experts warned evidence uncovered during civil proceedings could potentially be used by criminal authorities.
Andrew has previously denied any wrongdoing and strongly maintained his innocence, claiming to have no recollection of having ever met Miss Roberts.
Prince Charles, 72, and William, 39, were instrumental in forcing Andrew to step back from royal duties in 2019 in the wake of the disastrous BBC interview he gave in an attempt to clear his name.
A royal insider told the Mail yesterday: ‘The family find themselves in an extraordinarily difficult and sensitive situation given the nature of the allegations.
‘They are limited in what they can say publicly and now that the Duke of York is no longer a working royal they are actually rather limited in what control they can exert over the situation privately.’
Last night, sources close to the prince’s family expressed growing frustration with his legal team for the policy of continued silence.
The duke is said to have personally instructed criminal defence solicitor Gary Bloxsome, of City firm Blackfords, to help mastermind his response to Miss Roberts’ allegations.
Mr Bloxsome, a 40-year veteran of the company, has defended British troops against war crimes allegations, as well as footballers in assault cases.
However, a source close to Andrew’s family told the Mail earlier this week: ‘We are beginning to question the tactics of Blackfords.
Not to put out a statement reiterating or expanding on his denial may work in a restricted, legal sense, but in the court of public opinion his reputation is being shredded.’
Miss Roberts’ attorney, David Boies, revealed that he anticipates the case could be heard in New York as early as the ‘middle of next year’.
The Queen, 95, is due to celebrate her historic Platinum Jubilee with a series of major public celebrations in June.
Asked if he felt the lawsuit would be enough to get the ninth in line to the throne to answer questions about the allegations, Mr Boies told Sky News: ‘Prince Andrew is going to have to now. He can’t ignore the process.’
Mr Boies has previously accused Andrew and his legal team of ‘stonewalling’ both Miss Roberts and the FBI, which is investigating the crimes of Andrew’s friend Epstein. The prince has said he has offered to co-operate with FBI.
Mr Boies also confirmed new evidence and new witness statements will form part of their case when it comes to court for trial, which he believes will throw further doubt on the Duke of York’s account.
It is believed he was referring to Johanna Sjoberg, the only other woman to have publicly accused Andrew of sexual misconduct.
Sources have denied claims Andrew was summoned by his mother for crisis talks.
The lawsuit – filed on Roberts’ 38th birthday – claims that she was ‘loaned’ to the British royal and forced to have sex with Andrew three times on the orders of Epstein, fearing she would be killed if she disobeyed.
Ms Sjoberg, now 43, had previously been unable to sue because of the amount of time since the alleged attack. But a pending US law change could now allow her to bring her allegations to court.
In her civil lawsuit filed in New York on Monday, Miss Roberts – who has accused Andrew of having sex with her on three occasions when she was aged 17, knowing that she had been trafficked by Epstein – claims his actions amounted to ‘rape in the first degree’.
He has 21 days to respond and if he fails to do so, she could ask the court to find in her favour without a trial.
It would raise the prospect of Andrew facing demands for damages.
But if he does decide to come out fighting he could face having to give an account of his dealings with Epstein, as well as his previous sexual history.
Lawyers could also demand access to any communications with Epstein, as well as their mutual friend Ghislaine Maxwell.
She is due to go on trial later this year for allegedly acting as his ‘madam’ and helping to traffick vulnerable young victims.
But the prince can – and this is the most likely option for his team – also ask the court to dismiss the case as groundless or try to challenge it on other legal grounds.
Over 15 pages of court documents filed at New York’s southern district court, the 38-year-old makes claims that the Duke of York ‘committed sexual assault and battery’ against her while she was aged just 17.
The Duke of York has always vehemently denied all charges made by Roberts.
Roberts has requested ‘punitive damages’ be awarded by a judge and demanded a ‘trial by jury’ for the ‘physical, psychological’ injuries she says she suffered.
The US legal heavyweight who took on Microsoft, George Bush and represented Harvey Weinstein: David Boies is representing Virginia Roberts in Prince Andrew civil law suit
David Boies, 80, is representing Virginia Roberts in her US civil case against Prince Andrew
When it comes to US lawyers, few are bigger than David Boies.
The 80-year-old is representing Virginia Roberts in her US civil case against Prince Andrew.
It is a case that will have the world’s attention. But it won’t be the first time Mr Boies has been in the media spotlight.
One of his long-term clients was Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer, who was found guilty of sex offences in February 2020, and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
But while his professional relationship with Weinstein proved somewhat of a PR disaster for Mr Boies, he maintains a stellar reputation.
Famously, he represented the plaintiff in the famous case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.
The judgment invalidated California’s Proposition 8 – the law banning same-sex marriage.
Mr Boies also represented Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in his fight against Republican candidate George Bush.
The 2000 case saw a court decide on a controversial recount on the votes in Florida after claims the counting machines had missed votes.
The courts eventually decided that Bush had fairly won Florida – giving him enough electoral college votes to take the Presidency.
However, perhaps Mr Boies’ biggest case was United States v. Microsoft Corp.
The case saw the U.S. government accuse Microsoft of illegally maintaining its monopoly in the world of computers.
Mr Boies initially represented the US Department of Justice in the case.
After initially deciding in favour of the DoJ, the case was taken to appeal and eventually ended in a settlement between Microsoft and the US government.
‘Handpicked’ to defend the Duke: Leading solicitor who represented clients facing cartel charges, and QC whose clients include Argentinian dictator Augusto Pinochet
Solicitor Gary Bloxsome has defended clients in some of the UK’s most high profile cases
From alleged criminal cartels to Premier League football stars, high-ranking solicitor Gary Bloxsome has defended clients in some of the UK’s most high profile cases.
He famously defended Wimbledon’s Des Byrne in 2002, when he and Chelsea stars John Terry and Jody Morris were hauled before the courts accused of being involved in a nightclub brawl.
Terry and Morris were cleared on all charges, while Byrne was found guilty of possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon – but avoided jail and instead was ordered to pay a £2,000 fine.
More recently, Mr Bloxsome defended Crystal Palace star Jason Puncheon after he too was accused of being involved in a night club brawl in 2017.
The forward, who last season turned out for Cypriot side Pafos, initially denied a charge of assault, before later pleading guilty. He was ordered to do 210 hours of community work.
Mr Bloxsome has also previously worked on cases including defending British troops against war crime allegations.
He also was involved in defending an alleged criminal cartel case involving the Office of Fair Trading’s review into the passenger fuel surcharge.
Mr Bloxsome is working alongside leading QC Clare Montgomery (pictured) – a extradition lawyer once used by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet
Mr Bloxsome is thought to have been chosen by the Duke himself.
He is working alongside leading QC Clare Montgomery – a extradition lawyer once used by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Ms Montgomery, of Matrix Chambers, is a specialist with dealing with ‘cross border challenges’, according to her resume.
Among her long list of defence clients are Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile who was indicted for crimes against humanity by Spain during the 90s.
General Pinochet was indicted on an international arrest warrant for human rights violations by Spain, before being arrested in a London hospital where he was undergoing minor surgery in 1998.
In 1998 Mrs Montgomery represented the dictator in his case before the House of Lords -then the highest court in the country – in a hard-fought 16-month-long legal battle.
She also represented the former Prime Minister of Thailand after he was ousted in a military coup in 2011; and Vijay Mallya, who India seeks to extradite from the UK to face financial crime charges.