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Princess Eugenie found solace in her cousin, Prince Harry, amid her father’s public scandal.
The British royal, who turned 32 on Wednesday, flew to California from her home in Windsor, England, where she lives with her husband Jack Brooksbank and their 1-year-old son, August. During her stay across the pond, Eugenie was spotted attending the Super Bowl with the Duke of Sussex, who relocated to California with his wife Meghan Markle in 2020.
A month later, a U.S. judge dismissed a sex abuse lawsuit involving Prince Andrew, which occurred three weeks after lawyers for the American woman who filed it reached a deal. It called for the patriarch to make a substantial donation to his accuser’s charity and declare he never meant to malign her character.
Princess Eugenie of York turned 32 on March 23. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Dior Couture)
Eugenie, who is active on social media, has kept silent about the patriarch’s legal battle. However, True Royalty TV co-founder Nick Bullen said he did not doubt that the princess has relied on her cousin and other immediate family members for support.
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“Eugenie and Harry have always been close,” Bullen told Fox News Digital. “And as a family, there has been a lot of scrutiny on them. I believe everybody, not just Harry, has banded together to support Eugenie and her sister Beatrice over the years… I think her message to the public is the classic line the royals follow – never complain, never explain. You just go on and do your job.”
“I think that’s one of the many mistakes the Duke of York made,” he continued. “Once you start opening up to the public as a royal, it becomes very difficult to put a lid back on. Anytime a royal has spoken out, it backfires. So when it comes to a public scandal, it’s best to keep your head down.”
Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie, at an event in 2015, have remained close over the years. Eugenie even attended this year’s Super Bowl alongside her cousin. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Bullen is an award-winning documentarian who has been making programs about the British royal family for 20 years and has worked closely with Prince Charles for about a decade. While he founded his production company Spun Gold in 2004, Bullen has been producing royal content even before that. He has met with Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s daughters on several occasions and commended how they’ve “managed themselves” in the public eye.
“During this whole time, all eyes have been on Andrew,” he said. “And it’s unfair to cast the sisters in their father’s shadow. These are incredibly well-brought-up and really lovely girls, who are working on their own charities and trying to raise families. Their mother has raised them well. There’s a lot of love within that family and the two girls are very close to their grandmother the queen.”
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“They’ve remained supportive of their father, but they’ve also maintained silent on the subject,” he shared. “Instead, they’re focusing on their family. That’s what I found interesting about Eugenie attending the Super Bowl with Harry. It’s a reflection of how the family is trying to keep the lines of communication open with Harry and Meghan.”
Jack Brooksbank and Princess Eugenie tied the knot in 2018. They welcomed a son in 2021. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Modest! Golf)
The focus has been on Eugenie, who co-founded The Anti-Slavery Collective in 2017 to combat modern slavery and trafficking. In January, it was reported that Eugenie was launching a podcast for the charity.
Some have wondered if Andrew would return to public life by working closely with Eugenie’s charity, redeeming his reputation as a fatherly figure. However, Bullen said that’s not happening.
“The girls have their own work, their own charities that they’re working on,” he said. “There is no appetite for the Duke of York to have a public role anymore. I think what you may find is that he’ll get involved with some of the queen’s estates or some of the more private work involving the family members behind the scenes. The queen has made it clear – you are either in or out. You cannot have both. That’s why when Harry and Meghan wanted this half-in, half-out role, the queen said no. You are either a working member of the royal family or you’re not. And I don’t see Andrew being a working member of the royal family anymore.”
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Princess Eugenie has kept a strong bond with her cousin Prince Harry as her father Prince Andrew faced his lawsuit. (Getty Images)
Bullen noted that Eugenie’s relationship with Harry, 37, has always been strong, and it will continue to stay this way as their lives evolve.
“They cannot escape the goldfish bowl they grew up in, and only they can truly understand what’s it really like to be raised that way,” he said. “That’s why all the cousins – not just Eugenie and Harry – have been very close. There may have been troubles within the family over the years, but they’ve managed to overcome them. And Eugenie has, in many ways, tried to keep those lines of communication open for the family. No one has visited Harry since his departure. And I think that was a very public message of her support.”
Bullen stressed that “there’s no way” Andrew will ever return to public life.
Princess Eugenie accompanied by her father Prince Andrew, Duke of York on her wedding day. (Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images)
“He can’t return,” Bullen explained. “There’s just absolutely no way. First, I don’t think the British press would stand for it. The world press will certainly have issues with it. But more importantly than that his brother [Prince Charles] already wants to have a slimmed-down, reduced monarchy. And that certainly makes it difficult for Prince Andrew to return to public life because there really isn’t a role for him. The girls are not required in that role. It’s almost guaranteed that he won’t return to public life. The family doesn’t need him to be doing public work. It’s just not happening.”
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Andrew, 62, strenuously denied Virginia Giuffre’s allegations after she sued him, accusing the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2001 when she was 17.
Giuffre, 38, reached the settlement with Andrew after the judge rejected the prince’s bid to win early dismissal of the lawsuit earlier this year.
Attending a service at Westminster Abbey on June 4, 2013, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation are, from left, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Prince Harry, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. (Alex Davies/FilmMagic)
In a letter to the judge last month from Giuffre’s attorney David Boies, a statement was included that said, in part: “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”
According to the statement, Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said the prince “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”
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He also pledged to support the victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.
Prince Andrew has stepped back from royal duties. (Neil Hall)
Andrew, who had already stepped back from royal duties, was stripped of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages. He also can no longer use the title “his royal highness” in official settings.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew.
Her lawsuit said she suffered significant emotional and psychological distress and harm. She has alleged she had sex with Andrew three times: in London during a 2001 trip, at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the Virgin Islands when she was 18.
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Photo from 2001 that was included in court files shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. (U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her, although a photograph of Giuffre and Andrew together in a London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff, was included in Giuffre’s lawsuit against him.
Inconsistencies in her statements over the years that would have been highlighted by Andrew’s attorneys at trial may have motivated her, in part, to settle, though she has explained them as innocent mistakes that occurred when recalling traumatic events years later.
Andrew served in the Royal Navy for two decades, including as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. The honorary military roles he lost included several overseas ones, such as his title as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
Virginia Roberts holds a photo of herself at age 16, when she says Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein began abusing her sexually. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
He has spent years combating concerns about his links with Epstein, the U.S. financier who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges last month.
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A settlement of the Andrew lawsuit would follow deals reached by Giuffre years ago to resolve separate lawsuits against Maxwell and Epstein. It was recently revealed that Epstein settled for $500,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.