Since Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier and convicted sex offender, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell on August 10, scrutiny around who was involved in his alleged underage sex ring has shone a light on a few well-known names, most notably Prince Andrew. The second-born son to Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of York is one of the highest profile alleged associates in the now worldwide scandal.
Prince Andrew and Epstein reportedly knew each other for 20 years and maintained a connection even after Epstein plead guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008. Earlier this summer, investigative reporting from the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown brought a revived focus on Epstein and the previous allegations that he hired underaged girls to perform sex acts at his homes between 2002 and 2005. (His crimes were alleged to have taken place in New York state, Florida, London and on his private island, “Little St. Jeff’s.”) In 2015, allegations specifically against Prince Andrew surfaced from one of Epstein’s accusers who claimed she was forced to perform sexual acts multiple times with the British royal. With Epstein and his alleged crimes once again in the spotlight, Prince Andrew, now the eighth in line to the British throne, was also once again front and centre.
“This is, in my opinion, the biggest English royal scandal of the last 20 years,” says Elaine Lui, of popular website LaineyGossip.com, which frequently covers the royal family told FLARE. “I think that the particulars of this story, the way that it’s been covered and the way that it’s been interpreted, says a lot about who we are collectively, and what our attitudes are about sex and girls.” The Canadian television personality says the reason there has been so much coverage of Epstein’s crimes this time around is because there is “political intrigue,” and “not necessarily because they cared about the girls, but because of the other players who Jeffrey Epstein was connected to.”
On December 2, Prince Andrew’s accuser—Virginia Roberts (who now goes by the name Virginia Giuffre)—spoke to the BBC about her allegations against the royal in an emotional interview. Her appearance on BBC’s Panorama came just week after Prince Andrew spoke out publicly for the first time about his relationship with Epstein and the allegations against his former friend in a November 16 BBC TV interview in Buckingham Palace. The interview was pretty much a PR nightmare, and has since become a national joke in the U.K., depicting Prince Andrew, according to CNN journalist Kate Maltby, as “an entitled man-[child], incapable of understanding consequences.” Ouch.
Since the interview aired, several UK companies have distanced themselves from Prince Andrew, abandoning causes championed by the prince. On November 20, the prince released an official statement saying that he will step back from royal duties for the “foreseeable future,” and stating: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.” And just five days after his statement, The Times reported that the Queen has decided to cancel Prince Andrew’s upcoming 60th birthday party amid the scandal.
Here’s what we know about Prince Andrew’s connection to Epstein and what might be next for the prominent member of Britain’s royal family.
Accuser speaks out against Prince Andrew
Although the charges against Epstein were officially dropped following his death, more than a dozen women still had a chance to tell their stories about Epstein and possible co-conspirators to a packed federal courtroom in New York City on August 27. One of the accusers, Giuffre, spoke out about Prince Andrew in particular: “He knows what he’s done and he can attest to that. He knows exactly what he’s done and I hope he comes clean about it.” Guiffre is the girl seen in the well-circulated photo of Prince Andrew, who is now 59, in London in 2001. In the photo, he has his arm around the then 17-year-old’s waist.
One of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, has said Prince Andrew ‘knows what he has done’.
Prince Andrew has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
— ITV News (@itvnews) August 27, 2019
In 2015 court documents, which were unsealed the day before Epstein reportedly died by suicide, Giuffre said she was pressured by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew three times, when she was 17. It has also been confirmed by Epstein’s former pilot that Prince Andrew flew on a private jet three times with Giuffre. Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, said that she was 15 years old and working at Mar-a-Lago (that’s President Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida estate), when she was picked up by Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell and the woman who is being dubbed Epstein’s madam by his accusers. (Maxwell is also seen smiling in the background of the 2001 photo of Giuffre and Andrew.) Giuffre said she was forced into giving Epstein and his friends massages, which would later lead to sexual encounters.
In a December 2 interview with BBC’s Panorama, Giuffre doubled down on her accusations, stating: “You never forget the face of someone who has heaved over you,” in reference to her sexual assault. Refuting Prince Andrew’s November 16 claims that he’s never met Giuffre, the mom-of-three said, “He knows what happened, I know what happened, and there’s only one of us telling the truth and I know that’s me.”
Fergie’s connection to Epstein
We know that Prince Andrew (who is the father of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie and ex husband of Sarah Ferguson) met Epstein in 1999. They were reportedly introduced to each other by Maxwell, a close friend of the Prince. We also know that Ferguson, a.k.a. Fergie, also had dealings with Epstein. In 2011, Epstein paid her assistant £15,000 to allow her to restructure some of her debt.
Epstein and Prince Andrew’s relationship
All this attention on Prince Andrew seems like déjà vu for a reason. Media ran story after story about the duke’s ties to Epstein, which grew to a fever pitch in 2011, and prompted him to step down as Britain’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment in July of that year. What sparked so much interest in Epstein and Prince Andrew’s friendship was the unearthing of photos of the duo walking through New York’s Central Park the year prior, and the fact that Epstein had been convicted of his sex crimes in 2008.
On August 17, the Daily Mail posted a 2010 video of Prince Andrew poking his head out of Epstein’s New York City mansion, bringing renewed interest in those photos of the two men walking through Central Park, which happened within 24 hours of the recording of this new footage. Buckingham Palace released a statement later that day, saying that, “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”
In denying any involvement in Epstein’s alleged crimes, Prince Andrew described their relationship as if they were infrequent acquaintances—yet he brought Epstein to the royal family’s vacation home in Scotland, (Balmoral Castle, a 163- year-old 52-bedroom abode) in 1999.
According to Angela Levin, a royal reporter for The Daily Mail, in June 2000, Epstein was present at Dance of the Decades party at Windsor Castle, which was hosted by the Queen to mark several milestone royal birthdays—Prince Andrew’s 40th, Princess Anne’s 50th, Princess Margaret’s 70th and Prince William’s 18th. In December of that year, Epstein attended a party that Prince Andrew threw for Maxwell at Sandringham, the Queen’s 200,000-acre private estate two and a half hours north of London. The trio also reportedly travelled to Phuket, Thailand, to celebrate New Year’s Eve together later that year.
Prince Andrew’s response
After initially releasing a statement on August 24, exactly two weeks after Epstein’s death. Prince Andrew sat down for an interview with BBC on November 16. As the interview took place in Buckingham Palace, it was obviously given the royal tap of approval by the Queen. And she’s probably regretting that now. In the rollercoaster of an interview, Prince Andrew claimed that he didn’t know about a 2006 warrant for Epstein’s arrest—during which time the American mogul attended the 18th birthday of one of Andrew’s daughters—because Epstein hadn’t told him (regardless of the fact that he has an entire palace of people to vet his guests). In the same interview, Prince Andrew denied being BFFs with Epstein, saying it would “be a stretch” to say they were close friends, and referred to his status as a sex offender as “unbecoming behaviour.” In spite of all this “unbecoming behaviour,” the royal said that he doesn’t regret his friendship with Epstein, because of the mogul’s “extraordinary ability to bring people together,” which gave Prince Andrew networking opportunities…
Prince Andrew also denied the claims by one of Epstein’s victims that he had engaged in sex with underage girls under Epstein’s command, refuting the claim that he sweats profusely by saying that a war injury actually limits his sweating. “So I’m afraid to say that there’s a medical condition that says that I didn’t do it,” the royal said. Oh and that photo? He says there’s no way to know whether or not it’s photoshopped…which isn’t exactly an answer.
And apparently, the Queen seems to agree. On November 25, The Times reported that the monarch has decided to cancel the Prince’s upcoming birthday party; opting to host a small family dinner for her son, who’s turning 60 on February 19. That is going to be one sad birthday party.
So, what next? It looks like the prosecution may be focusing their efforts on Maxwell, but that doesn’t exactly expunge Prince Andrew. In August, NYC prosecutors reiterated that the investigation was ongoing and charges could still be brought against any co-conspirators.
One thing is clear, this isn’t over.