Trigger warning: This article includes mentions of sexual abuse against minors.
Prince Andrew is expected to face trial after his bid to have a sexual abuse lawsuit in the US thrown out failed.
The royal has been accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who filed the suit, when she was just 17-years-old.
Ms Giuffre alleges that she was sex trafficked to the Duke of York by Jeffrey Epstein's close associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently found guilty of a number of sex abuse charges.
Andrew has denied all of the claims and initially tried to throw out the suit, moving to dismiss it on the grounds that it violated a 2009 settlement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein.
The settlement, which was only released to the public last week, showed that Epstein paid Ms Giuffre $500,000 USD ($694,637 AUD) to drop a sexual abuse case against him.
It also contained a liability release for "any other person or entity" who could have been a defendant against claims by Ms Giuffre, however Prince Andrew's name is not mentioned.
The royal's legal team had hoped to use the settlement to have Ms Giuffre's case against him dismissed, but a judge in New York ruled against the royal on Wednesday.
Judge Lewis Kaplan said that the agreement is "ambiguous" and determination "must await further proceedings" – meaning the lawsuit will go to trial.
"For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint or for a more definite statement is denied in all respects," he wrote in the ruling against Andrew.
"The 2009 agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument 'directly', 'primarily', or 'substantially', to benefit Prince Andrew."
This means that Andrew could be called to speak in open court this year, which could affect the reputation of the British royal family.
He may be able to avoid facing trial by reaching an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre, which could cost millions and would still reflect unflatteringly on the monarchy.
Ms Giuffre filed her lawsuit against the Andrew last August, alleging that she was forced to have sex with the prince on three occasions between 1999 and 2002.
"I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me," Giuffre said, via her lawyers, in a statement to ABC in August.
"The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions."
Prince Andrew, 61, has "absolutely and categorically" denied the claims and his lawyers previously attempted to prevent service of the suit, but failed.
"Ms Giuffre's complaint is neither 'unintelligible' nor 'vague' nor 'ambiguous,'" judge Kaplan said of the suit, which Andrew's legal team previously tried to discredit.
"It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse."
There has been ongoing scandal around the royal's involvement with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein for years, with Ms Giuffre's allegations making headlines in 2019.
Andrew responded to the accusations by appearing on the BBC Newsnight program, where he gave a televised interview denying Ms Giuffre's claims and distancing himself from Epstein.
During the segment he claimed that he had "no recollection" of Ms Giuffre, despite a photograph appearing to show them together with Epstein's former partner, Maxwell.
The royal's comments only caused further outrage and he stepped down from public royal duties after the "train wreck" interview.
Ms Giuffre later gave her own interview on the same network in the UK, reinforcing her allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of the prince.
Now the pair are expected to face each other at court when the lawsuit goes to trial later this year.
Judge Kaplan revealed in a phone conversation last year that the case may go to trail "somewhere in the September to December period" of 2022.