Prince Andrew’s reputation is ‘damaged beyond repair’ following a decision by a US judge to allow a civil case to be brought against him by Virginia Giuffre, experts warned.
Specialists in reputation management told MailOnline that not only has Andrew been tarnished by the allegations but so has the rest of the Royal Family with legal proceedings against him set to get underway later this year.
Simon Wadsworth, managing partner at Igniyte, a company which specialises in reputation management, said: ‘I think it’s a long slog from here regardless of the outcomes of any proceedings going forward and any gestures to redeem the situation may only worsen the situation.
‘He (Andrew) may be best to stay out of the public eye for the foreseeable future.’
He further warned: ‘This has damaged the rest of the Royal Family by association. It’s difficult for them to control the narrative, so hard for them to influence public opinion.
‘The option of keeping him in a low profile looks to be increasingly difficult when this goes to a hearing.’
Specialists in reputation management told MailOnline that not only has Prince Andrew (pictured in April 2021) been tarnished by the allegations but so has the rest of the Royal Family with legal proceedings against him set to get underway later this year
The Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts. Ghislaine Maxwell can be seen in the background
Mr Wadsworth described the impact of the case on Andrew’s reputation as ‘devastating’, claiming that it has not been helped by his attitude towards Ms Giuffre.
He added: ‘The impression he has given is one of not being empathetic and being “above the law”.
‘All statements and interviews have been around denial and rebuttal which is probably the right legal route but not necessarily in a PR sense – if he is innocent of all charges as he and his team say he is why can’t he at least appear to be fully co-operative? There is a victim in this, and they should be the primary focus.’
Reputation specialist Amber Melville-Brown, a partner at international law firm Withers, claimed that there appeared to be little hope of salvaging Andrew’s reputation ‘in the court of public opinion’, whatever the outcome of the civil action.
She said: ‘He may never recover reputationally from injuries sustained from his fall from grace.
‘While Prince Andrew has not been tried nor his evidence yet tested in any court, in the court of public opinion, his reputational ship was already under fire by his association with Epstein, torpedoed on Maxwell’s conviction, and all but sunk by this latest loss.’
She added: ‘Fighting this legal action will require titanic efforts by Prince Andrew’s legal team, but whatever the ultimate result in court, it may not be enough in the court of public opinion to raise his reputation from the depths to which it has already sunk.’
Alex McCready, Head of Reputation & Privacy at Vardags, a leading international law firm, said: ‘It is very difficult to see a situation where his reputation can be repaired or him ever having a public role again.
Reputation specialist Amber Melville-Brown (above) claimed there appeared to be little hope of salvaging Andrew’s reputation ‘in the court of public opinion’
‘It’s all about damage mitigation now, particularly in light of the nature of the allegations that he is facing and his status as a member of our Royal Family.
‘Whatever happens, Prince Andrew’s reputation has suffered terrible damage from the allegations in this lawsuit and from his former friendship with Epstein and Maxwell – two convicted sex offenders.’
Experts also questioned the tactics employed by Andrew’s legal team, as they attempted to use a 2009 settlement between Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein to try and quash the case.
Ms McCready said: ‘The move to have the case thrown out was always going to be incredibly risky and it now looks like it may have backfired. It is not a reputationally appealing argument to get the case thrown by relying on a 12-year-old settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein – but clearly his lawyers thought it had legal merit.’
She added: ‘I personally think that many are surprised that he’s taken any steps to become involved in this US litigation (even if this was simply to ask the court to throw the case out), given he couldn’t be compelled to take the stand as it’s a civil case.’
Ms Melville-Brown described the attempt to have the case thrown out as a ‘gamble’ that has backfired.
She said: ‘Prince Andrew has seemingly gambled throughout Ms. Giuffre’s complaint and subsequent litigation. Doubling-down with this disastrous dismissal application and betting on Epstein’s settlement agreement further associates him with his disgraced friend, costing him a pretty penny in terms of his reputation.
Simon Wadsworth (pictured above), managing partner at Igniyte, a company which specialises in reputation management, said: ‘I think it’s a long slog from here regardless of the outcomes of any proceedings going forward’
‘Facing the wheel of fortune of a trial he could still emerge the victor but win or lose I’d wager the odds are stacked against him on rescuing a reputation so tarnished.’
Like other experts, she also voiced concerns over the wider damage to the Royal family but said that she was confident that they would eventually overcome this.
She added: ‘Prince Andrew’s reputation has likely been damaged beyond repair. The accusations levelled at him personally also tarnish the monarchy by association – but not irretrievably as in his case.
‘The monarchy is not just a family, it is an institution. As the Queen celebrates an impressive 75 years on the throne, the monarchy has survived for an impressive thousand years.
‘The brand is too robust to fail as a result of accusations levelled at individual members, and the ship will plough on despite there being one man overboard.’
Mr Wadsworth said that his professional advice to Andrew over the next few months would be not to make any public statements about the case and fully co-operate with the authorities.
He added: ‘The disastrous Newsnight interview showed that he should be kept away from any public statements however possible and certainly in a trial situation as he will most likely further damage his image if pushed on the matters he is accused of.
‘But at least open and co-operative would at least elicit some sympathy I think with the wider public.’