Prince Andrew and His Sexual Assault Trial Explained: A Timeline

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

Prince Andrew hanging out with a 17-year-old in Ghislaine Maxwell's house. Nothing to see here! (Florida Southern District Court)

You've heard Prince Andrew's name. You know he was pals with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. And you know he's been named in sexual assault allegations related to hanging out with those two toads. But until his legal troubles landed on these shores recently, it's fairly likely that most Americans had never even heard of Prince Andrew. (He's barely even in The Crown for crying out loud!)

Allow me, then, to explain who Prince Andrew (a.k.a. the Duke of York) is, why he's about to stand trial in an American court, and why this is all such a huge deal in England. (So huge, in fact, that Harry's big bro William reportedly views Andrew as "a threat" to the royal family. Yikes.)

The basics

Who is Prince Andrew, anyway?

  • Andrew is the third child of Queen Elizabeth II, little brother to Prince Charles, and uncle to Princes Harry and William. He is ninth in line to the throne, landing after Charles, William, William's three kids, Harry, and Harry and Meghan's two children. In that order.
  • The peak of Andrew's celebrity came in the late 1980s after he married Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson (who Friends fans might remember from Season 4's London episode). The couple were tabloid staples throughout the '80s and early '90s, and had two daughters—Princess Beatrice in 1988 and Princess Eugenie in 1990. (You might recognize the sisters from the crazy crap they wore on their heads to William's wedding.)
  • Andrew first became friends with Ghislaine Maxwell in the mid-1980s when she was studying at Oxford University. The English upper classes have a tendency to stick together, and Maxwell was both wealthy and well-connected thanks to her father, Robert, a controversial media tycoon. The Maxwells' press links would have undoubtedly been alluring for Andrew. (Remember what Harry said in his Oprah interview about "the invisible contract between the [royals] and the U.K. tabloids"? Robert Maxwell owned one of the biggest papers in the country.)
  • Ghislaine Maxwell was the person who first introduced Andrew to Jeffrey Epstein, though exactly when remains unclear. The prince says they were introduced in 1999; his own private secretary claims it happened in the early '90s.

The legal background

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell's spiraling legal concerns have been slowly creeping up on Andrew for over a decade. Here's what happened and when:

2008: Epstein pleads guilty to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. His 18-month sentence—later reduced to 13 months—amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist; he's still allowed to leave jail and go to work for 12 hours a day, six days a week. The only upside of this farce? Epstein has to make payments to some of his victims, and officially becomes a registered sex offender.


2009: Epstein reaches a private settlement with Virginia Giuffre over charges that he sexually abused her with Ghislaine Maxwell's "assistance and participation" between 1999 and 2002.  The civil case also references abuse by Epstein's “adult male peers, including royalty, politicians, academicians [and] businessmen.” Giuffre receives $500,000 from Epstein and agrees to release "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant" from further legal actions.

2011: During a conversation with Giuffre—who began speaking out about her history with Epstein and Maxwell in 2010—journalist Michael Thomas stumbles across the now-infamous photo of Andrew with his arm around Giuffre. Eight years later, Thomas will step up and defend its authenticity on British television.

Jan. 2015: Giuffre files a defamation lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell after Maxwell tells the press that Giuffre's claims about Epstein's sex trafficking operation are "obvious lies." In documents relating to the case, Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with Andrew at the behest of Maxwell and Epstein in 2001, when the prince was 41 and she was 17.

Jan. 2015: Buckingham Palace releases a statement defending Andrew: “It is emphatically denied that H.R.H. The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. [Roberts is Giuffre's maiden name.] The allegations made are false and without any foundation." Palace aides say Andrew will continue to work as usual.

May. 2017: The defamation case between Giuffre and Maxwell is settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

Jul. 2019: Epstein is arrested on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He pleads not guilty, is denied bail and, according to prison officials, subsequently makes an unsuccessful suicide attempt in his cell.

Aug. 9, 2019: Court documents from Maxwell and Giuffre's 2015 defamation suit are unsealed, revealing more details about Giuffre's allegations against Andrew. Giuffre's testimony says she endured three separate assaults by Andrew. One at Epstein's home in New York, one at Maxwell's home in London, and one at Epstein's private island, Little Saint James. She adds that: "Epstein instructed her 'to give the prince whatever he demanded, and required [her] to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse'."

Aug. 10, 2019: Epstein's dead body is found in his cell at New York's Metropolitan Correction Center. Authorities claim it was a suicide. The internet does not believe them.

Just one of the many 'Epstein Didn't Kill Himself' memes that emerged after his death.

Nov. 16, 2019: Andrew makes a disastrous appearance on respected BBC TV show, Newsnight. During his interview with Emily Maitlis:

    • Andrew suggests the famous photo of him with his arm around Guiffre may be "doctored" because he is "not one to, as it were, hug. And public displays of affection are not something that I do."
    • Andrew also states: "I don't believe it's a picture of me in London because ... when I go out in London, I wear a suit and a tie."
    • Andrew responds to an assertion by Giuffre that he sweat profusely during a trip to a London nightclub, with a claim that it's "almost impossible for [him] to sweat" after "an overdose of adrenalin" that occurred during the Falklands War.
    • Andrew says on the night the photo is said to have been taken, he was taking his daughter Beatrice to a pizza chain restaurant just outside London.
    • Andrew admits to staying with Epstein, even after the financier's 2008 conviction, because Epstein's home was "a convenient place to stay."

Andrew is widely mocked both online and in Britain's newspapers. One website, Royal Central, described his performance as: “plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad.”

Nov. 20, 2019: Andrew announces he is stepping back from public duties "for the forseeable future." Multiple companies and charities take steps to cut ties with him.

Nov. 24, 2019: Queen Elizabeth cancels Andrew's 60th birthday party. Because: consequences.

Dec. 2019: Buckingham Palace responds to press inquiries about Andrew's situation by re-issuing the statement put out in his defense in Jan. 2015.

Jul. 2020: Ghislaine Maxwell is arrested in a small New Hampshire town, after many months spent evading authorities.

Dec. 29, 2021: Maxwell is convicted of sex trafficking a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three conspiracy-related felonies. Giuffre is mentioned during the trial on several occasions. One witness—an abuse survivor—testifies that Giuffre had previously shared that she'd had sex with Prince Andrew.

The Current Lawsuit

A close-up of Prince Andrew's face, tilted to one side and looking browbeaten.
Prince Andrew, digging his own grave on 'Newsnight', in Nov. 2019. ('Newsnight'/ BBC)

Sept. 2021: Prince Andrew is served with a civil suit, after weeks of failed attempts by Giuffre's team. The prince is instructed to respond to the case by Oct. 29.

Oct. 11, 2021: London police announce they have no plans to pursue a case against Prince Andrew after "reviewing" Giuffre's evidence over the summer. The British public collectively rolls its eyes.

Sept. 2021 - Jan. 4, 2022: Andrew's lawyers argue repeatedly that Giuffre's 2009 settlement with Epstein means she no longer has grounds to go after Andrew in court.

Jan. 12, 2022: Judge Lewis Kaplan disagrees and rules that Giuffre's lawsuit against Andrew can, in fact, go ahead, because Andrew was "not a party" to the 2009 settlement reached by Giuffre and Epstein. Andrew's trial is set for some time at the end of 2022.

Jan. 13, 2022: The Queen strips Andrew of "military affiliations and royal patronages," officially removes him from public duties, and announces to the world that—well—he's basically on his own now. Which is a huge deal, especially since Andrew has long been considered her favorite son.

The official royal message in which Queen Elizabeth II essentially cuts off Prince Andrew from the rest of the royal family. (Twitter/ @theroyalfamily)

This also means that Andrew may no longer be addressed as "His Royal Highness" ("H.R.H.")—a huge blow for any member of the royal family. (When Diana lost her H.R.H. title after her split from Charles, it was widely considered by the public to be a vindictive move by the royal family.)

What's next?

A big ol' mess, that's what. Nothing like this has ever happened to a member of the royal family before and there is literally no way for Andrew to come out of things unscathed. His options are as follows:

  • Attempting to delay the trial and hoping for a miracle. Some pundits even think Andrew might try and use the fact that Giuffre is based in Australia to get the case thrown out on a technicality.
  • Reaching an out of court settlement with Giuffre. Only problem is, Giuffre would have to agree to it—and she does not seem terribly interested in letting this man off the hook right now.
  • Rolling with the trial and hoping for the best. That would involve Andrew giving evidence or a deposition under oath. Which given how Newsnight went, doesn't seem like a smart choice.
  • Simply not showing up. Which sounds totally bananas, but the royal family is totally bananas. A no-show could lead to a default judgment, however—which, in his absence, would undoubtedly not fall in Andrew's favor.


One thing's for sure, we've got months to go until this is finally resolved. Watch this space.