Soon after Prince Andrew’s November 2019 announcement that he was retiring from his royal duties over the controversy surrounding his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, it seemed like the disgraced prince was looking for a way back into his role in public life. Due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, Andrew spent 2020 largely out of the spotlight, but reports indicated that he hoped to return to the royal fold sometime soon, even though the basic facts of Andrew’s involvement with Epstein and his former girlfriend and alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, are still hard to parse. On Tuesday, the Mirror reported that Andrew is not considering a royal future until all his legal issues have been resolved.
A source close to Andrew told the tabloid that any hopes for a return won’t be able to happen until after the legal process is over. “The Duke’s future role is only likely to be seriously considered once the legal process has been resolved and the Duke’s side of the story properly explained,” the source said. “Until then, the Duke is sensitive to the public mood and to the fact that the institution must come first.”
When he stepped back from his royal role, he said in a statement that he intended “to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.” By January 2020, Geoffrey Berman, then the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York, said that Andrew had not yet offered information to the Epstein investigation. When Maxwell was arrested in July and charged with six counts including perjury and conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, it was still unclear if the parties had broken their impasse. (Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will face trial in July 2021.)
When speaking to the Mirror, Andrew’s representatives declined to clear up the lingering mystery about his cooperation. “We cannot comment on the legal process as any communications would be covered by the DOJ’s own confidentiality rules, which we have always observed,” the representatives said. They also declined to comment on who was paying for Andrew’s legal representation.
Andrew spent most of the last year isolating with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, at Royal Lodge, the Windsor home they share. Though Andrew did not publicly release his holiday plans for 2020, Royal Lodge went under a Tier 4 lockdown order on December 20. On December 26, Ferguson released a Christmas video believed to be filmed in one of the home’s gardens to her Instagram.
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