LONDON – When financiers from Prince Andrew’s private bank lent him 1.5 million pounds ($2 million) in 2017, they were skeptical about the scandal – hir British royal’s ability to repay the money.
Fortunately for Andrew, the bankers were able to look past his own shaky finances and find someone else who be good for the money: his mother. Or, as she is better known to the world, Queen Elizabeth II,
As questions mount over how Andrew could afford a reported multimillion – dollar settlement with Virginia Giuffre, attention is once again turning to the Queen, who this year marks 70 years on the throne, and her support for her wayward second son.
British media this week reported Andrew had been forced to pay about 12 million pounds to Giuffre to get her to drop a lawsuit accusing him of raping her when she was 17. They have also reported that the Queen helped her son fund the deal. While the terms of the settlement were confidential, Andrew said in a statement that he commended Giuffre’s bravery and pledged to make a ‘substantial donation’ to her charity in support of victims’ rights.
From what is known about Andrew’s personal wealth, it would not be enough to cover a settlement of this size. In 2017, staff at his private bank, Luxembourg’s Banque Havilland SA, put his wealth at about 5 million pounds, Bloomberg News has previously reported.
‘It seems highly likely that his mother will have to bail him out again to pay this enormous settlement’, said Norman Baker, a former U.K. government minister and author of a book about the British royal family’s finances. ‘We should have transparency on where the money is coming from’.
Andrew’s dealings with Banque Havilland offer an insight into his finances and what role the Queen may have played in supporting her son, in addition to the 250,000 pound stipend she pays him. His other known source of income is a 20,000 – pound Royal Navy pension.
When Andrew took out a series of short – term loans from the private bank between 2015 and 2017, bank staff viewed his mother as key to the facility. ‘While the (increased) loan is unsecured and granted solely against the credibility of the applicant, both his position and that his mother is the Sovereign monarch of the United Kingdom should provide access to funds for repayment if need be’, they wrote in a credit application seen by Bloomberg.
Andrew’s royal bank is referenced frequently across the document. Describing its business relationship with him, Banque Havilland stated: ‘The borrower is Prince Andrew the Duke of York, son of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom’. At another point, the application noted Andrew’s profession as ‘Prince’ and his address as Buckingham Palace.
Spokespeople for Andrew, Buckingham Palace and Banque Havilland all declined to comment.
In the run up to this week’s settlement, speculation had grown about how Andrew would fund the case. Speaking to Bloomberg last month, Mitchell Epner, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, estimated Andrew’s legal cost could have been between $200,000 to $300,000 per month. Had the case gone to trial, he said the bill could easily have come in at $4 million to $6 million.
Speaking after the settlement, Epner, now an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich, said the reported size of the settlement didn’t ‘seem unusual’ given the likely costs involved in a trial.
‘Of the bad options in front of him this was the best bad option, but make no mistake this was a very bad option’, he said.