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Prince Andrew’s links to Jeffrey Epstein

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Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a New York prison cell this month has seen attention turn to some of the US financier’s high-profile connections, including Prince Andrew.

The relationship between the 59-year-old member of the Royal Family and Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, has come under close scrutiny.

February 1999 – US Virgin Islands

The Duke of York said he first met Epstein, 66, a wealthy hedge fund manager, in 1999. That year was the first time the pair were linked in press reports in the UK and US.

Prince Andrew reportedly flew with Epstein on his private Gulfstream jet in February 1999, according to a log book seen by the Daily Mirror in 2015.

The flight was said to be to Epstein’s private island, Little St James in the US Virgin Islands.

The Daily Mail also reported that 10 months earlier Epstein’s logbook showed he had flown to the same location to meet the the duke’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. The couple had divorced in 1996.

June 2000 – Windsor Castle

Epstein and his British ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell were among a star-studded guest list at a party hosted by the Queen in June 2000.

The Dance of the Decades event, which saw more than 600 guests descend on Windsor Castle, marked four royal birthdays including Prince Andrew’s 40th.

The duke became part of the social circle of Ms Maxwell – someone who Epstein later described as his best friend.

The Queen’s third child was pictured accompanying Ms Maxwell – daughter of the late newspaper tycoon, Robert Maxwell – at private parties and celebrity functions both in the UK and in the US that year.

They were photographed together at the wedding of the prince’s former girlfriend, Aurelia Cecil, near Salisbury in September 2000.

Andrew and Ms Maxwell were again photographed together at a Halloween party thrown by model Heidi Klum in Manhattan.

Ms Maxwell was pictured dressed in gold lame and wearing a blonde wig for the Hookers and Pimps-themed party.

December 2000 – Sandringham

Just over a month later, in December 2000, the then 40-year-old prince, threw Ms Maxwell a surprise birthday party at Sandringham, with Epstein among the guests.

A few days earlier Ms Maxwell and Epstein had been photographed on a pheasant shoot on the Queen’s estate in Norfolk.

Prince Andrew and Ms Maxwell went on a number of trips together including to Florida and Thailand, according to an Evening Standard report from January 2001, which claimed Epstein had joined them on five such occasions over the previous 12 months.

The charges against Jeffrey Epstein

Allegations against Jeffrey Epstein started surfacing in 2005 when the parents of a 14-year-old girl told police in Florida that Epstein had molested their daughter at his Palm Beach home.

The financier was accused of paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005.

However, a controversial secret plea deal in 2008 saw him plead guilty to a lesser charge of soliciting a minor for prostitution.

He received an 18-month prison sentence and was released on probation after 13 months.

In July 2019 he was charged in New York with further allegations of sex trafficking and conspiracy and was due to face trial next year.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges but if convicted, was facing up to 45 years in prison.

2010 – New York

The duke was photographed with Epstein in New York’s Central Park in late 2010 – after the tycoon had served his sentence.

Footage, released by the Mail on Sunday this week, also shows Prince Andrew inside the financier’s Manhattan mansion around the same time.

Prince Andrew’s connection to the convicted sex offender did attract criticism.

After several days of newspaper reports on the Epstein connection in spring 2011, Prince Andrew was hit with a further blow when Sarah Ferguson admitted having accepted £15,000 from Epstein, to help pay off her debts.

The fallout saw him quit his role as a UK trade envoy in July 2011. Prince Andrew later acknowledged his friendship with Epstein had been a mistake.

2015 – Court deposition

In 2015 the duke was named in court papers as part of a US civil case against Epstein.

According to the Guardian, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts – now Virginia Giuffre – said she was ordered to give the prince “whatever he required”.

Ms Roberts claimed in court papers in Florida she was forced to have sex with the prince on three occasions – in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein – between 1999 and 2002, when she was under-age, according to the state’s law.

Prince Andrew was not party to the proceedings but was identified when a motion was filed in the court, as part of the evidence.

The details were later officially struck from the court records when a judge ruled they were unnecessary to the case, saying they were “immaterial and impertinent” to the “central claim”.

Separately, an allegation by a woman called Johanna Sjoberg that Prince Andrew touched her breast while they sat on a couch in Epstein’s Manhattan apartment in 2001 was contained in documents from a defamation case. These documents were made public when they were released by a judge in August 2019.

Ms Giuffre had brought the defamation case against Ms Maxwell. She was alleged to have procured underage girls for Epstein and his friends, but she has always denied the allegations.

Buckingham Palace has issued outright denials of all allegations against Prince Andrew.

The palace, on behalf of the prince, denied “any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts,” adding that the accusations were “false and without any foundation”.

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Prince Andrew reiterated the denial during a public appearance in Davos, Switzerland in 2015.

Neither Prince Andrew nor Buckingham Palace issued a statement this year until the Mail on Sunday released the footage of the duke at Epstein’s home in 2010.

A Buckingham Palace statement this month said he was “appalled” by the recent reports of Epstein’s crimes.

The Duke of York followed that up with another statement six days later, saying he wanted to “clarify the facts” around his “former association or friendship” with the US financier.

“During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year,” he said.

“I have stayed in a number of his residences. At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”

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