Prince Andrew breaks cover for the first time since losing battle to avoid civil trial over Virginia Giuffre sex claims

PRINCE Andrew has today broken cover for the first time since a judge sensationally ruled he will face a sex assault case.

The Duke of York, 61, was driven in a Range Rover in the grounds of Windsor Castle this morning.

Andrew looked solemn as the 4×4 left his home Royal Lodge after a judge threw out his plea to dismiss the civil case brought by Virginia Giuffre.

The bombshell ruling means the case can now proceed towards a trial before a jury in New York this year.

Andrew denies claims Giuffre was forced to have sex him more than 20 years ago at Ghislaine Maxwell's London home when she was just 17.

Her allegations have dogged Andrew since she first made them in 2011, when a now infamous photograph emerged of him with his hand around her.

Giuffre’s feared lawyer David Boies will grill the royal in front of jurors under oath – and could also question Andrew’s former wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, and their daughter Princess Beatrice.

The ruling is the latest setback for Andrew, who has tried to disassociate himself from Maxwell and her paedo ex Jeffrey Epstein.

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The case also represents a huge embarrassment for the royal family, as the Queen prepares to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.

In a car-crash interview with the BBC, he denied ever meeting Giuffre and claimed he was at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night in question.

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His troubles stem from his controversial friendship with Epstein, who Giuffre claims introduced her to the royal.

She accused Epstein of raping her and sued him but reached an out of court settlement in 2009 in which she was paid $500,000 (£371,000) in return for dropping the case.

Andrew's lawyers argued he was covered by a part of the settlement in which she also agreed not to sue "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

But Mr Boie said only the parties of the settlement agreement – Epstein and Giuffre and their associates – could benefit from it, and not a "third party" such as Andrew.

Judge Lewis A Kaplan agreed and said the 2009 agreement cannot "demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously" show the parties intended to "benefit Prince Andrew".

Giuffre, now 38, claims she was enticed by the Duke of York's pal Maxwell and lured into paedo Epstein's sick sexual pyramid scheme.

She alleges she was forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions – in London, New York and on Epstein's island Little St James.

Her legal team argue she was a "frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her" when she was allegedly abused by Andrew, saying "no person, whether President or Prince, is above the law".

Andrew strongly denies all allegations against him and also claims he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by his pals Maxwell and Epstein.

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