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He may be living under the shadow of an impending courtroom showdown over sex abuse claims, but Prince Andrew went horse riding in Windsor Great Park yesterday, ‘looking like he didn’t have a care in the world’.

The Duke of York was all smiles on his early-morning ride, after a US judge set a date for his bid to have his accuser’s allegations thrown out.

Andrew’s lawyers last week launched an extraordinary counter-attack against Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke on three occasions – in London, New York and in the US Virgin Islands – when she was 17. The Prince has repeatedly and vehemently denied the claims, and on Thursday District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced he would hear arguments on Andrew’s motion to dismiss the complaint on January 4.

One onlooker in Windsor yesterday said: ‘Prince Andrew is often seen riding in the park but he’s not normally smiling. This time, he looked like he didn’t have a care in the world and was even chuckling away.’

A source close to the Duke, 61, said he found his regular horse rides ‘a welcome distraction’ that allowed him ‘a moment to decompress’.

The Duke of York (pictured) was all smiles on his early-morning ride in Windsor's Great Park yesterday, after a US judge set a date for his bid to have his accuser's allegations thrown out

The Duke of York (pictured) was all smiles on his early-morning ride in Windsor's Great Park yesterday, after a US judge set a date for his bid to have his accuser's allegations thrown out

The Duke of York (pictured) was all smiles on his early-morning ride in Windsor’s Great Park yesterday, after a US judge set a date for his bid to have his accuser’s allegations thrown out 

The Prince was wearing the Royal Cypher of the Grenadier Guards, the regiment of which he retains the rank of Colonel, despite having stepped down from official duties.

One Palace source said it was ‘hard to see a way back’ for Andrew, particularly as Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, has made clear that he will seek to interview the Prince under oath.

Ms Giuffre, now 38, claimed she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend, the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Last week, the Duke’s lawyers accused Ms Giuffre of making ‘lurid’ claims to secure ‘another payday at his expense’ but critics say the high-risk strategy amounted to ‘victim shaming’.

Meanwhile, the Queen was seen to be in good spirits as she checked up on her horses during what aides described as ‘a private weekend away’ at Sandringham.

The 95-year-old was driven around the Norfolk estate by John Warren, her bloodstock and racing manager, after travelling by helicopter from Windsor on Thursday.

The Queen was driven around  Sandringham by John Warren, her bloodstock and racing manager, after travelling by helicopter from Windsor on Thursday

The Queen was driven around  Sandringham by John Warren, her bloodstock and racing manager, after travelling by helicopter from Windsor on Thursday

The Queen was driven around  Sandringham by John Warren, her bloodstock and racing manager, after travelling by helicopter from Windsor on Thursday 

The Queen is thought to have been joined by her loyal corgi Muick, and dorgi Candy, a corgi-dachshund cross. One dog was spotted imitating its mistress by peering out of the window of a Land Rover ferrying it around the estate.

Rather than lodging in the main house at Sandringham, the Queen is staying at Wood Farm, the modest cottage which Prince Philip called home in his later years.

She was wearing a butterfly headscarf, a recurrent theme in recent days and thought to be a tribute to her late husband. For her video address to the COP26 summit last Monday, she wore a butterfly brooch which had been a wedding gift and displayed a 1988 picture of Philip surrounded by monarch butterflies. On November 20, the couple would have been married 74 years.

The Queen has suffered a bout of ill-health recently, but hopes to have recovered sufficiently to attend the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph in Whitehall next Sunday.

Then comes Christmas, which is usually spent at Sandringham but has no guarantee of being stress-free, given how close it is to Andrew’s court date.

If his bid to have Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit dismissed fails, a trial is expected next autumn. 

If Andrew's bid to have Virginia Giuffre's (pictured) lawsuit dismissed fails, a trial is expected next autumn

If Andrew's bid to have Virginia Giuffre's (pictured) lawsuit dismissed fails, a trial is expected next autumn

If Andrew’s bid to have Virginia Giuffre’s (pictured) lawsuit dismissed fails, a trial is expected next autumn

Source: Daily Mail

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