PRINCE Andrew could finally stripped of his "His Royal Highness" status as he faces a lawsuit for allegedly raping a 17-year-old trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York had reportedly been hopeful for a return to public life – but this may have been shattered as he could lose his title after already being removed from frontline duties.
Andrew has fiercely denied any allegations, says he has no memory of even meeting alleged victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and he had no suspicions of Epstein's wrongdoing during their friendship.
He is facing fresh scrutiny however as Giuffre's lawyers filed a lawsuit with a New York court claiming she was "lent out for sexual purposes" and "compelled" to have sex with Andrew.
She also claimed the Duke was aware she was 17 and knew she had been "trafficked" – claiming she was abused by him three times in London, New York and on Epstein's island in the Caribbean.
Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace, told Newsweek: "Giuffre's lawsuit will preclude a return to public duties.
"It is very difficult to see how Prince Andrew can return to the frontline of the monarchy while a suit is pending, or with a verdict against him passed in absentia."
He added: "There are too many legal questions surrounding the prince and it is increasingly doubtful that he can hold on to his HRH status."
Prince Andrew has held onto his "HRH" status – despite the fact Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ditched their's after stepping back from Royal duties.
It has also been speculated that should Andrew could lose the use of his Royal property, the Royal Lodge at Windsor, should the family decide to take action.
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The Duke is currently hunkered down at Balmoral Castle for the summer along with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and his mum, The Queen.
Fergie's presence is expected to sooth things as well as she makes her first visit to Balmoral in 25 years,with the Duchess being 100 per cent behind Andrew.
The monarch and her son had dinner together last night just hours after he was served US summons.
And while The Queen will be putting on a brave face, she will be feeling the heavy weight of the shocking allegations,Royal commentator and author Angela Levin told The Sun Online.
Her Majesty will attempt to keep things as normal as possible, the expert believes, but she will be privately exasperated with the Duke of York – who has often been described as her "favourite son".
It will be the first summer without Philip after his death aged 99 in April for The Queen, and Ms Levin says the Duke's absence will leave a "big hole" in the family as they attempt to weather this latest storm.
She said the ongoing scandal was the "last thing" the Queen needs following her beloved husband's passing, with the Duke often described asher "rock".
Philip's absence will be felt throughout the summer holiday, with The Duke traditionally always being the one who would play chef whenever the family had BBQs.
The expert explained The Queen will likely have a "quiet word" with Andrew but won't let the allegations dominate their stay at Balmoral – trusting that her 61-year-old son "work it out himself".
She believes The Queen at this point will be feeling "resignation and exasperation" with Andrew rather than frustration.
Its very hard to cope for any mother dealing with something like this
And the situation is "extra hard" as The Queen always considered Andrew her favourite, wanting him to "worthy and good", the expert said.
Ms Levin told The Sun Online: "Its very hard to cope for any mother dealing with something like this, and she doesn't know if its true or not, its all allegations."
She went on: "She is so used to handling things from a very early age – since she became Queen in her 20s – she can put things aside.
"If she let everything eat her up she wouldn't have survived for so long, she will feel down about it, but she will enjoy having her family around her.
"This is the one time she can really relax."
Andrew's brother Charles meanwhile is understood to be "absoutely furious" and will likely have it out with him in private away from The Queen, the expert claimed.
And she explained his nephew William is understood to have been a major driving force behind getting Andrew stripped of his patronages, feeling "very strongly" that he should step back.
Both William and Charles will be seeking to protect the Monarchy as they lead the family into the next generation.
Andrew faces civil litigation with the 15-page suit for the first time after he allegedly abused Ms Giuffre when she was 17 at Ghislaine Maxwell's house in London.
Maxwell and Epstein are alleged to have run a global sex trafficking ring of young and underage girls who they lured in using their wealth and power before offering them to their pals.
Her legal team argue she was a "frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her" when she was allegedly abused by Andrew, saying "no person, whether President or Prince, is above the law".
It is believed that the Duke of York will not be able to invoke the special royal diplomatic immunity which is enjoyed by his mum, The Queen.
Members of the the immediate royal household are considered immune – but Andrew is not believed to be included in this bracket, especially after he stepped back from his duties.
Andrew has previously pledged to assist with any investigation into his former friend Epstein as he denies all allegations.
But there has been a long running war of words between his team and US prosecutors about how much assistance he has offered them.
However, US officials have previously insisted they are not seeking to extradite Andrew.
Ms Giuffre's new lawsuit comes almost two years to the day after Epstein, 66, was found dead in a New York jail awaiting trial for conspiracy and child sex trafficking charges.
Andrew is named as the only defendant in the suit, brought under New York state's Child Victims Act, though Epstein and his former girlfriend Maxwell are mentioned frequently throughout.
Ms Giuffre is seeking unknown amounts of compensation and punitive damages over the allegations.
She claims she feared for her life when she was allegedly forced to have sex with Andrew, who is accused of having been aware of her age and status as a "sex-trafficking victim".
Ms Giuffre’s lawyers claim that they have made multiple attempts to contact the Duke and his legal team but have been ignored.
According to her lawyer the latest letter sent to Prince Andrew was sent last month, and warned that a lawsuit could be filed.
In an infamous Newsnight interview with the BBC's Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre and said he had "no recollection" of ever meeting her.
He also said he has no memory of the well-known photograph of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre's waist at Maxwell's house, and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
The fallout from the interview saw the royal criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with disgraced financier.
And meanwhile, Andrew is potentially facing a second lawsuit from Johanna Sjoberg, 39,who claimed the Duke groped her breasts at Epstein's house when she was 21.
Espstein hanged himself in his prison cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking offences.
Maxwell was arrested last July and is set to go on trial in November for allegedly recruiting underage girls for sex for the disgraced New York financier.
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Sun Online has contacted a representative for Prince Andrew for comment on the new lawsuit.
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