Prince Andrew has become "incredibly stressed" over his sexual assault case and has ordered his US legal team to "cancel Christmas" so they can focus ahead of the key court date, royal sources have claimed.
The Duke of York has strengthened his efforts to prepare for the explosive case, which has been described as his "last ditch attempt" to get allegations that he abused a teenage girl dropped.
It has been reported that he has ordered his Californian based team to "leave no stone unturned" as they continue conversations late into the night ahead of the hearing on January 4.
Sources say that Andrew has been "totally consumed" with the legal battle and has also been worrying about the effect the case could have on the Queen financially after she agreed to meet his court costs – which he has denied, reports The Mirror.
Andrew is accused of “rape in the first degree” amid claims he forced Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, to have sex with him three times in 2001 while she was trafficked by the royal’s late paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein.
She is pursuing Andrew through the civil courts and sued him in August for unspecified damages which could run into millions of pounds if she is successful.
The royal has always vehemently denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Next Monday his team plans to deliver their final submissions to the New York court before a decision is taken in the new year as to whether the Duke will face a full trial.
One source close to Andrew said: “The tension in the camp is palpable. No one is really sure what Andrew’s involvement is other than asking a lot of questions, but he spends his days and nights poring over documents.
The source added that he was "particularly stressed a few days ago" when he was heard speaking to one of his team members.
"The feeling was he was telling them to effectively cancel Christmas and get totally across all the eventualities of what could happen in the case so there are, as he put it, ‘no more surprises’"
The Duke’s team want the “baseless lawsuit” thrown out, claiming Virginia Giuffre is looking to “achieve another payday at his expense”.
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Court documents filed on behalf of her lawyers condemned Andrew, 61, for launching a “baseless, defamatory” attack on her credibility, character and motives.
Andrew’s team must meet Monday’s deadline to file a further response before the New York district judge Lewis Kaplan rules on the next stage.
Prince Andrew has hired Hollywood lawyer Andrew Brettler from the £1,500-an-hour firm Lavely and Singer to represent him.
The judge has said he is targeting a date for trial between October to December 2022.
The Palace has been contacted for comment.
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