Royal expert: ‘Prince William & Kate Middleton need to step up, now more than ever’

As Prince Andrew’s sexual assault case goes to court, royal biographer Katie Nicholl says the Queen will look to Kate and William, and try to build bridges with Harry and Meghan

Prince William & Kate Middleton

by Daisy McLure |

While 2022 was set to be a celebratory year for the Queen as she marks her Platinum Jubilee, the royal family have been rocked yet again as Prince Andrew’s alleged sex abuse case heads to court.

Earlier this month, the case – brought by one of late sex offender and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre – hung by a thread as the Duke of York’s legal team battled to have it thrown out.

But last week, a judge in New York refused to dismiss the case – in which Virginia accuses Prince Andrew, 61, of having sex with her three times when she was a teenager, allegations he denies – and scheduled a court date for a civil trial later this year. It will likely see Prince Andrew appear in court either in person or via video link, and may even see members of the royal family called to testify.

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The Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee this year ©Getty Images

Two days after the news, the Queen announced that Prince Andrew had been stripped of his HRH title, his royal patronages and military affiliations, and would no longer be undertaking public duties – reportedly as a result of a “crisis summit” between the royals where Prince Charles and Prince William urged the Queen to cut him out “to ensure the survival of the royal family”. She is reportedly also refusing to pay towards his legal fees. Instead, he’s been forced to sell the £17m ski chalet he shares with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson to pay costs.

It’s believed he may try to appeal the court’s decision, with sources previously saying he is keen to reach a financial agreement out of court – despite reports suggesting that Virginia is likely to refuse a £3.7m settlement.

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Andrew faces court in the autumn ©Getty Images

And royal expert and biographer Katie Nicholl tells Closer the royals will be reeling.

She says, “It’s obviously a devastating blow to Prince Andrew, and to the family. This really threatens to overshadow what should be an incredible year for them. The prospect of an autumn civil court case poses huge challenges and it’ll take a toll on the Queen.

“She’s been looking forward to her Jubilee for years, but she’s had health issues, and it’s still not entirely clear how she’s doing. It would take a toll on any 95 year old. “I imagine it’ll be all systems go behind closed doors, with strategic planning as to how this year and the Jubilee celebrations will play out. I don’t think Andrew will have any part to play. Prince William and Kate, as well as Prince Charles and Camilla, will likely be given centre stage, and they’ll step up to support the Queen.”

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Harry’s memoir will be released this year ©Getty Images

This autumn will also see the release of Prince Harry’s memoir. It’s part of a £20m deal and comes after he and wife Meghan – who quit royal life in 2020 and moved to the US – made shocking claims about the royals last year, alleging racism and neglect over Meghan’s mental health.

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Tensions are still running high between the Cambridges and Sussexes and Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, failed to publicly wish Kate a happy 40th birthday last week, despite William, 39, and Kate congratulating Meghan on hers last August.

Katie adds, “The royals will want to show themselves as a functional, strong family, but this will be threatened by the release of Harry’s book, around the same time as Andrew’s court case. They’ll want to keep things as stable as possible, so there could be olive branches from the royal family to Harry and Meghan. Any more bombshells from them would be the worst thing possible.”

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