Prince Andrew has been named in the newly unsealed documents concerning the financer, Jeffrey Epstein’s case, in which he was convicted of multiple sex offences including the trafficking of young girls. Epstein committed suicide in prison whilst awaiting conviction in 2019. Many other celebrities were named, including Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson and Donald Trump. On 18 December, New York District judge, Loretta Preska, ruled that previously unsealed documents from the Virginia Giuffre v. Ghislaine Maxwell case would become public. In anticipation of these documents, rumours that Prince Andrew would be mentioned, now that he has - what does this mean for the royal?
Who Is Prince Andrew?
Born in 1960, Prince Andrew is the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Appointed as the Duke of York upon his 1986 marriage to Sarah Ferguson (‘Fergie’), he is father to two daughters - Princess Beatrice, born in 1988, and Princess Eugenie, born in 1990. After his marriage broke down in 1996, Andrew and Sarah remained close friends, with her still attending events. Since the controversy surrounding his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein came to light, there have been calls for his title as the Duke of York to be rescinded, but he currently still holds the title. He is eight in line for the throne.
Prince Andrew’s Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein:
The Duke of York and the late billionaire Epstein were first introduced in 1999 through Ghislaine Maxwell. They seemed to have remained good friends after vacationing together in 2000 and, shortly after, both Maxwell and Epstein were invited to Windsor Castle for Prince Andrew’s 40th birthday party.
Virginia Giuffre has testified that she first met Prince Andrew in 2001, when she was just 17 years old and was sexually trafficked by Epstein to the royal. However, the controversy concerning Andrew and Epstein first came about after Jeffrey’s release from prison in 2010. After being charged with soliciting prostitution and engaging in sex with a minor, Epstein served around 18 months in jail. Prince Andrew was pictured with the criminal in New York City, which caused a big scandal in the UK. The backlash from the pictures caused Andrew to give up his role as UK trade envoy in 2011.
After things had seemingly settled down, Giuffre came forward and spoke out against Jeffrey Epstein in 2015. It seems the Duke of York got off easy until Epstein’s arrest, foillowed by his suicide, after which further victims and witnesses also came forward, with Prince Andrew’s name being mentioned. After stepping back from royal duties, Andrew gave an interview to the BBC in which he claimed to have no recollection of meeting Giuffre.
In 2022, Virginia sued Andrew, and received a £12 million settlement. He stated that he “regrets association with Epstein” after denying all of Giuffre’s claims. Prince Andrew was then stripped of his honorary roles by the late Queen, shortly after the lawsuit. One of the most infamous aspects of Prince Andrew’s involvement is a picture of himself posing with a teenage Virginia, with Ghislaine Maxwell in the background. Maxwell has claimed the picture is fake, despite evidence that backs up Giuffre’s claims. Maxwell is currently serving a 20-year sentence in prison for her involvement with Epstein in the trafficking of young girls.
The Duke of York has stepped back considerably from royal appearances but was present at the annual Christmas walkabout in Norfolk recently, a few days after the documents were ordered to be unsealed.
One of Prince Andrew’s accusers, Johanna Sjoberg’s, witness testimony in 2019 against Maxwell included a recount of an interaction with the royal. “I just remember someone suggesting a photo, and they told us to go get on the couch. And so Andrew and Virginia sat on the couch, and they put the puppet, the puppet on her lap. And so then I sat on Andrew’s lap, and I believe on my own volition, and they took the puppet’s hands and put it on Virginia’s breast, and so Andrew put his on mine.” Sjoberg, who was 20 at the time of the incident, was also sexually trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
In the newly released documents, an unnamed victim, Jane Doe 3, discussed being forced to have intercourse with Prince Andrew on several occasions. His name was also associated with an incident which involved an orgy with under-aged girls. It is unclear exactly how many times Prince Andrew’s name was mentioned in these documents, but many are claiming it’s over 70.
What’s Next for Prince Andrew?
Since the court documents have only just become available as of January 3, 2024, both Prince Andrew and Buckingham Palace are yet to comment. Nonetheless, royal expert Kinsey Schofield, has said “The royal family is going to stand beside him no matter what” also stating that Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson are rumoured to be about to reconcile in a bid to restore Andrew’s image.
Schofield’s statements are supported by the responses within Prince Andrew’s family. In an interview back in 2019, Fergie commented, “to see such a wonderful man go through such enormous pain. He is the best man I know. It’s just incredible what he has done for Britain, and it’s all nonsense,” about the father of her children. (Fergie has been proven to have her own involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, who lended her money so she could pay off debt.) In the past, Buckingham Palace has said that the accusations towards the Duke were “categorically untrue”.
The documents released on January 3 were only a portion of all the documents that are being unsealed, only time will tell what’s in store for Prince Andrew. However, social media users have already started to call for Andrew to be stripped of all royal duties and titles amidst the news. Likely he won’t be criminally charged as of yet, his reputation is what will suffer the most as a result of these documents being released.
Edited by Chloe Mansola
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