Prince Andrew bolted back to Balmoral days before the civil case brought against him by one of Jeffrey Epstein‘s victims was due to be heard in court – meeting the Queen at the estate’s most remote boltholes.
The Queen‘s son was seen arriving at her private 50,000-acre grounds in the Scottish Highlands with his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, ahead of Monday’s hearing in New York.
Andrew is convinced he will be able to ‘brush off’ the allegations and is said to be ‘bullish’ about his prospects of returning to public life – despite many believing the idea is impossible.
He and his ex-wife made the 500-mile journey by car for the second time this summer. They last visited the Queen on Royal Deeside just a month ago.
Shortly after arriving yesterday, Andrew joined his mother for lunch at a secluded cabin in a forest around six miles from the castle, just on the fringes of the sprawling estate. The wooden building is the most remote shelter on the land, as far away from the main buildings as possible.
The Queen and her son spent around an hour-and-a-half together at the fishing lodge on the banks of the River Dee, before she left.
Andrew reportedly darted out from the rear of the property to avoid being spotted and headed into the forest, where he was picked up by his Metropolitan Police royal protection officers.
Although sources close to the beleaguered Duke of York said the trip to Balmoral was a long-planned holiday, it has also been suggested that may be trying to avoid representatives for his accuser’s lawyers, who have been trying to serve papers on him at Royal Lodge, his Windsor mansion. Security guards have stopped ‘multiple’ attempts in recent weeks.
It comes as a Royal insider told the Mirror he was confident of ‘brushing off’ the allegations.
The source insisted: ‘It is clear he (Andrew) has a clear and burning desire to return to work as soon as possible.
Andrew joined his mother for lunch at a secluded cabin in a forest around six miles from the castle for the midday summit
Prince Andrew is pictured with Sarah Ferguson in the back seat of the Range Rover as they left Windsor
The Queen during an inspection at the gates at Balmoral as she takes up summer residence at the Scottish castle on August 9
Cabin where Queen and Andrew held ‘summit’
The wooden lodge where the two Royals met is on the fringes of the Balmoral Estate.
It is the most remote structure on the grounds and is acres away from any other buildings.
It neighbours the The Craigendarroch estate and is also near to the village of Ballater.
But its location means there is no chance of any discussions being accidentally overheard.
And just metres away is the River Dee, with its rushing waters affording extra noise and a privacy barrier for the guests.
‘That may look entirely impossible but if anything he’s become emboldened in recent weeks and remains utterly convinced he will not only be exonerated but will certainly forge a way back to public life.
‘Certainly he has given the incredibly bullish impression that this will all blow over within a short while, rather than become a protracted issue.’
Andrew is being sued in America by Virginia Roberts – now married and known as Virginia Guiffre – who accuses him of rape and sexual abuse when she was a child who ‘he knew was a sex-trafficking victim’.
She has repeatedly accused the royal of having sex with her when she was aged 17 in London, the US and the British Virgin Islands.
US legal experts say that under the Geneva Convention, Andrew or his legal team – if he nominated them – must be served with the papers in person.
Under the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), papers must be served on all defendants within 120 days after a civil complaint is filed at court.
Otherwise the action can be dismissed unless the plaintiff can ‘show good cause for the delay’.
This means Miss Roberts’ lawyers will have until December 8 to serve the papers on Andrew.
On Monday a judge is due to hear for the first time details of the civil suit she is bringing against the ninth in line to the throne.
It will be aired via a telephone conference in Manhattan, New York.
Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, was photographed with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in London in 2001
Prince Andrew (left) arrives at Balmoral with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in the back of a Range Rover
Timeline of another dramatic month in the Prince Andrew case
- August 9: Virginia Giuffre files a civil case in New York claiming Prince Andrew sexually abused her aged 17
- August 10: Andrew arrives at Balmoral with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, and is joined by Eugenie the next day
- August 10: US lawyers were allegedly trying to hold him up on his horse to serve him papers before he left.
- August 12: Dame Cressida Dick says she has told Met Police detectives to review the claims against Andrew
- August 13: Ms Giuffre’s lawyer says Andrew will be served papers in person under the Hague Convention
- August 14: Epstein’s telecoms specialist says he will swear on oath that he saw Andrew groping Ms Giuffre
- August 15: Andrew’s friends say he is ‘cheerful and relaxed’ over the case in and will remain silent
- August 16: A source close to the US probe into Jeffrey Epstein says they view Andrew as a ‘person of interest’
- September 7: Andrew leaves Royal Lodge in Windsor and travels nearly 500 miles to Balmoral in Scotland
- September 13: First telephone conference in the case is scheduled at Manhattan Federal Court in New York
- December 8: Deadline for Andrew to be served with court papers in person under the Hague Convention
There is no requirement for Andrew or his legal team to be on the line, and sources indicated yesterday that there was no intention for them to take part in any official capacity.
But legal experts have also warned that the prince could harm any future defence if he continues to try to avoid the action.
If all attempts at serving the papers on him failed, a judge could decide to go ahead with the case anyway if persuaded that all reasonable efforts had been exhausted.
If Andrew, 61, refuses to accept the civil summons, which was issued by a New York court clerk nearly four weeks ago, he risks facing a ‘judgment by default’.
Mark Bederow, a top New York attorney, said: ‘If somebody is evading service and the plaintiff can demonstrate they have attempted to serve them they can use alternative methods.’
He said a judge would have the power to approve sending the papers to the duke’s lawyers via email.
But he added: ‘This is a mess for him. For potential jurors – it’s not a good look. I don’t know what strategic or tactical edge they think they’re getting here.
‘It’s a terrible look into something where in theory you’d want to rely on your credibility as a royal.’
The duke’s spokesman has repeatedly declined to comment.
One possible response to the lawsuit would be for his lawyers to seek to have the case struck out, by arguing there was insufficient evidence to justify any realistic prospect of success.
Andrew could take the decision to refuse to ‘submit to the jurisdiction of the US court’, said Richard Marshall, of the law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper.
It would make it harder for any judgment against him to be enforced, but the damage to his reputation would be significant.
Prince Charles and Camilla at Ballater Community and Heritage Hub in Aberdeenshire on August 31, near the Balmoral estate
US business and marketing expert Allyson Stewart-Allen said: ‘If Prince Andrew thinks by saying nothing it’ll go away, that is a strategy that may work in the UK – it is not a strategy to deploy in the United States.’
The prince also faces increasing pressure to speak to the FBI, who are investigating Epstein’s crimes.
According to sources Andrew’s former wife. Sarah, who divorced him in 1996 but remains close and still lives at Royal Lodge, has been a ‘pillar of strength’ for him.
It is not clear how long the two will remain in Scotland with the Queen, who is normally in residence until early October.
Andrew has nothing official to rush back to as has been forced to step back from royal duties due to the scandal over his friendship with Epstein.
But he will no doubt want to return to spend time with his first grandchild, August, Princess Eugenie’s little boy. His eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice, is also expecting her first child.
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