After settling out of court with Virginia Giuffre regarding her claims of sexual abuse against him, there is no way Prince Andrew will be able to restore any semblance of positive public image.

In a surprising turn of events that few were expecting, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon that Prince Andrew had agreed a settlement with the lawyers representing Virginia Giuffre. While the details of the settlement remain officially undisclosed, a figure of £12 million, including a £2 million donation to Giuffre's charity for victim's rights, has been reported.

Ever since the Prince's interview with Emily Maitlis, where he denied sleeping with Giuffre, he has been walking on the thinnest of tightropes. Questions had already been raised about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. His trip to a Woking Pizza Express and his inability to sweat as key points of his defence did not, even then, sound the most plausible; having now settled, they seem even less so.

Unfortunately for Prince Andrew, settling out of court is highly unlikely to bring the story to a close. A gagging order preventing either party talking about the case is supposedly in place until after the Queen's forthcoming jubilee celebrations, at the request of the Prince. However, once that expires Giuffre will be free to give interviews, write books and discuss the case widely – something guaranteed with US media.

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The problem with having settled without the case going to court is that it no one can truly say who is telling the truth. If the case had proceeded to court in New York, at least then Prince Andrew could have stood up and made his case, and should he have been found not guilty, he, the Royal family and the public could have moved on from. Instead, he will retire to the Royal lodge as people continue to make jokes at his expense of him giving money to someone he'd supposedly never met. Once the jubilee celebrations are done (where he will almost certainly make limited appearances) he will have to endure months, if not years, of seeing and hearing Giuffre continuing to argue her side of the story.

The Prince is now also facing questions over where the money is coming from for the settlement. Last year, the Royal finances received £85.9 million from the taxpayer, and concerns have been raised that some of this money will be used to fund the settlement. Of course, it may not, given the wealth of the Queen's Duchy of Lancaster estate, which is her own private income, may come into play. However, that is not the point. The potential for public money being used to save Prince Andrew from humiliation and imprisonment stemming from his own actions is like a very late Christmas present for those less than fond of the Royal family.

From the car-crash interview to questions around his guilt arising from the settlement and where the money will be coming from, public opinion of the Prince could not be much worse. The only saving grace for Prince Andre is the flipside of the settlement argument – without a court trial he cannot be found guilty of that which he is accused of. He will certainly be relieved that what could have been a lengthy jail term is now a sum of money and a statement.

I think we would all be surprised if Prince Andrew ever chose to speak publicly of the scandal again. Combine that with the uncertainty of no court verdict and the high probability of Virginia Giuffre continuing to argue his guilt, it is difficult to see how Andrew will ever be able to regain public trust and confidence.

The court of public opinion is the one that matters now, not one in New York, and for his own sake and (for most people more importantly) the Queen's sake, he should do all he can to avoid giving that court's jury any more reason to question him than they already have.

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