The size of Prince Andrew’s sexual trafficking settlement—and who’s paying—is putting the royal family’s untouchable status in danger

February 16, 2022, 2:24 PM UTC

Prince Andrew’s agreed settlement of the lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who alleged she was sexually trafficked to the British royal by financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17, brought an end to one chapter of the prince’s public flogging over the case.

But while the settlement—which included a “substantial donation” to Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights and Prince Andrew’s pledge to “demonstrate his regret for his association” with the sex offender financier, though no admission of guilt—was for an undisclosed sum, later media reports have set off new tidal waves of anger among many in the British public.

According to the Telegraph, the settlement has a £12 million ($16 million) price tag, and will reportedly be paid at least in part by Prince Andrew’s mother, Queen Elizabeth. The reported size of the settlement and the source of it have not gone down well.

The deal reactions

Twitter quickly mused on the scandal settlement, noting that the money going to pay Giuffre doesn’t come from some faraway source, but rather quite likely U.K. taxpayer money.

Others are advising another very posh privileged British person to take a similar course of action in the Partygate scandal that has engulfed the U.K. in recent weeks.

But most worryingly for the royal family, the queen’s untouchable position may be cracking.

The untouchable royals?

Until recently, the royal family enjoyed a sort of untouchable status in the U.K. So even after Prince Andrew, who is colloquially referred to as the queen’s “favorite son,” became a poster boy for white male privilege and sexual trafficking, the royal family’s approval rating had been well insulated from the scandal.

In polling published by YouGov on Jan. 13, more than 80% of the British public have a negative view of Prince Andrew, and 70% think Virginia Giuffre’s allegations of sexual abuse against him have damaged the monarchy either “very much” or “somewhat.” Yet favorability trackers monitoring the senior royals show that at the end of January, the popularity of the queen, Prince Charles, and Kate and Will had not been affected by the scandal, hovering around the same popularity as they did before the scandal even began.

Now it remains to be seen if the royal family’s Teflon status can withstand Prince Andrew’s latest news. The queen has forced Andrew to step back from royal duties, stripping him of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages. If the queen is footing the bill for his actions, however, the House of Windsor may not be as insulated as the family once thought.

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