Earlier this summer, federal prosecutors charged wealthy Manhattan financier Jeffrey Epstein with one count of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. After pleading not guilty to the crimes, Epstein was denied bail, and was later found dead in his Manhattan jail cell. The cause of death was ruled a suicide.
But even after his death, Epstein's high profile social circle has continued to remain in the headlines. Notably, Epstein's associates included not only politicians in both parties, but also royalty. Queen Elizabeth's son Prince Andrew reportedly had close ties to Epstein at one point.
On August 27, one of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Guiffre, held a press conference. When asked specifically about Prince Andrew, she said, "he knows exactly what he's done, and I hope he comes clean about it."
In September, Guiffre sat down with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News for a televised interview in which she said that Prince Andrew "was an abuser." In the segment, Guthrie reports that Guiffre says Prince Andrew sexually abused her a total of three times.
“Ghislaine said, ‘He’s coming back to the house. And I want you to do for him (Prince Andrew) what you do for Epstein.’” Virginia Roberts Giuffre shares details about her previous encounter with Prince Andrew at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London townhome. pic.twitter.com/IZVYaIfdTt— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 20, 2019
Prince Andrew has always denied any accusations of inappropriate behavior, and Buckingham Palace issued an additional statement to NBC regarding Guiffre's allegations. It reads, "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."
Here's what else we know about the Duke of York's relationship with Epstein:
They met in 1999.
According to the Guardian, their friendship began when Prince Andrew was introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's girlfriend at the time.
The extent of Epstein's relationship with Andrew or other members of the royal family is largely unknown, though the two men were photographed walking together in Central Park in 2010 (above), several years after Epstein was released from prison. Two years earlier, Epstein had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison; he served 13.
In a statement released on August 24, Prince Andrew shared that he had stayed at several of Epstein's properties, but that he "saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year."
Epstein also had a financial relationship with Andrew's ex-wife Fergie.
In 2011, the Telegraph reported that Epstein paid Sarah Ferguson's former personal assistant Johnny O'Sullivan £15,000 at the request of the Duke of York. That payment then reportedly "allowed a wider restructuring of Sarah's £5 million debts to take place."
The Duchess of York has since apologized for her association with Epstein. She told the publication at the time:
"I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me. I abhor paedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf. I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again. I cannot state more strongly that I know a terrible, terrible error of judgment was made, my having anything do with Jeffrey Epstein. What he did was wrong and for which he was rightly jailed."
Fergie also confirmed that her ex-husband Andrew facilitated the payment.
Buckingham Palace has recently issued several statements about Andrew's association with Epstein.
While some, including President Bill Clinton, issued statements distancing themselves from Epstein immediately following the news of his arrest, Prince Andrew stayed silent on the matter for several weeks.
But in August, Buckingham Palace released several statements regarding the Queen's son's relationship with Epstein.
In the statement from August 24, Andrew also said that he did not "see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to [Epstein's] arrest and conviction."
"His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure," the Duke of York writes, before closing with "I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior."
He signed it simply ANDREW.
It was the third statement release by the royal family this month about the Duke of York's relationship with Epstein.
On August 18, a statement from Buckingham Palace says that the Duke of York is "appalled" by Epstein's alleged crimes.
It reads in full:
“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.”
The statement was released after a 2010 video of Prince Andrew inside Epstein's New York City home (likely taken around the same time as the above photo) was published by the Daily Mail. In the footage, the Duke of York can be seen waving to a woman from the door.
The above comment is the second issued by the royal family regarding Prince Andrew's relationship with Epstein in less than a week.
The day before Epstein was found dead by suicide, a number of legal documents relating to his criminal case were unsealed, one of which included allegations about Prince Andrew. When asked about the allegations by NBC News, Buckingham Palace gave the following statement:
“This relates to proceedings in the United States, to which The Duke of York is not a party. Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
The same statement was given to the Daily Mail when the publication's reporter inquired if Prince Andrew was going to comment on Epstein's death.
We'll continue to update this post as more information is released to the public.
You Might Also Like