Financier Jeffrey Epstein and Duke of York Prince Andrew reportedly had direct ties to one another, a connection that’s undergone scrutiny following Epstein’s July 6 arrest for sex trafficking underage girls in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. It’s only one of the high-profile relationships financier Epstein held, including those with presidents present and past like Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.
Now, after the Duke of York’s bombshell interview with the BBC and new charges in the mysterious death of Epstein, here’s what you need to know about the friendship between the two.
How did Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein’s friendship begin?
Although the two men came from different worlds, they hung in similarly wealthy social circles. In a recent interview with BBC Newsnight, Prince Andrew said he first met Epstein in 1999 through Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend, whom the royal said he had known since she was at university.
How close were they?
This one’s still a bit shrouded in mystery. Per the BBC, Andrew and Epstein’s paths crossed several times since 1999. According to a log book viewed by The Mirror, the royal flew with Epstein to his private island in February of that year. In June 2000, Maxwell and Epstein attended a party at Windsor Castle, an invite Andrew said he extended to Maxwell, who brought Epstein as a “plus one.”
December 2000 saw Epstein and Maxwell as guests at Sandringham for a “straightforward shooting weekend.” Andrew and Maxwell traveled on several trips, according to an Evening Standard report from January 2001 (via BBC), which claimed Epstein had joined them on five trips over the previous year. Prince Andrew told Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis that he used to see Epstein a maximum of three times a year.
Even after Epstein was charged in 2006 with one count of solicitation of prostitution, Epstein attended Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday at Windsor Castle. In the interview, Andrew said Epstein secured an invite to his daughter’s party in part because he wasn’t aware of “what was going on in the United States” and that the financier never mentioned he was under investigation.
As for 2010 photos of Epstein and Andrew in Central Park, after the former had served 13 months of an 18-month prison sentence? The royal said he had traveled across the pond to end the friendship. “I said, ‘Look, because of what has happened, I don’t think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact,'” the Duke recounted to Maitlis.
Still, when pressed on why he would stay with Epstein at his mansion after allegedly ending the friendship, he offered that it was a “convenient place to stay.”
When asked why he would continue to associate with someone like Epstein, Andrew said, “Do I regret the fact that [Epstein] has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.”
“Unbecoming?” Maitlis asked. “He was a sex offender.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite,” Andrew replied. “I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender. But no, was I right in having him as a friend? At the time, bearing in mind this was some years before he was accused of being a sex offender.”
His final verdict on whether he regretted getting close with Epstein over the years:
“Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful,” Andrew explained. “He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren’t that close.”
What did Prince Andrew say in his interview about the allegations against him?
On November 16, the Duke of York spoke out for the first time about his relationship with the disgraced billionaire since the scandal and Epstein’s subsequent suicide. BBC’s Maitlis asked Andrew about claims from Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was forced to have sex with the royal on three occasions when she was 17, including once on the private island owned by Epstein.
Prince Andrew denied the allegations and said he had “no recollection” of meeting Giuffre. He said he was with his children on the day in March 2001 that she alleges they went to a nightclub in London and later had sex in Maxwell’s house. He said he was with his daughter Beatrice at a Pizza Express restaurant in the town of Woking, which he remembered “because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do.”
In response to a photo, reportedly taken by Epstein, of himself and Giuffre at Maxwell’s house where his arm is around her waist, Andrew said: “Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored but I don’t recollect that photograph ever being taken,” adding that “hug[s] and public displays of affection are not something that I do.”
According to the New York Times, several organizations and companies associated with Prince Andrew are reconsidering their dealings with the royal after the interview.
How has Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Fergie been involved with Andrew and Epstein?
In 2011, the British media reported that Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson also had ties to Epstein. Per the Telegraph, Epstein paid Ferguson’s former personal assistant Johnny O’Sullivan £15,000 at the request of Prince Andrew, in order to pay off the Duchess of York’s debts.
The Duchess of York apologized for her association with Epstein and confirmed that Andrew was involved in the transaction. She told the Telegraph 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 judgement 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.”
Following Andrew’s BBC interview, Ferguson shared several photos of her ex-husband on Instagram alongside a caption where she referred to him as “a true and real gentleman” who “is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people.”
What has Buckingham Palace said about the relationship?
The Daily Beast first reported the charges against Epstein in early July, which included one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking. Per the New York Times, they carried a combined maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison.
While some that were mentioned alongside Epstein, including former President Clinton, released statements immediately disavowing him, Andrew’s camp remained quiet.
But by mid-August, Buckingham Palace released a statement addressing Epstein’s relationship with Prince Andrew. It arrived after the Daily Mail published a video allegedly showing Andrew inside Epstein’s New York mansion in December 2010, waving goodbye to a woman.
The statement reads: “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.”
On August 24, Prince Andrew explained that it was “a mistake and an error” to spend time with Jeffrey Epstein in 2010, after he was already a registered sex offender. 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.”
Has Prince Andrew ever been accused of sexual misconduct before?
Another layer to the link between the royal and Epstein is Prince Andrew’s own history with allegations of sexual misconduct. In recently unsealed court documents related to a 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell, who allegedly co-conspired with Epstein, there are allegations against Andrew. The Daily Beast reported that in the documents a woman named Johanna Sjoberg alleges that Andrew groped her at Epstein’s mansion in 2001.
The day after Epstein’s apparent suicide, several documents relating to the case became unsealed, including the above. The Palace gave the following statement to NBC News when asked for comment about the documents: “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 FBI is currently investigating Epstein and his associates, so the royal may be asked to offer testimony. Epstein’s former legal counsel Alan Dershowitz (who has also been accused of sexual misconduct) has said the royal would be forced to speak if investigators were to request it.
So, what’s the latest on Epstein and Prince Andrew?
Two guards have been charged in connection with Epstein’s death.
NBC News reported that two guards, Michael Thomas and Tova Noel, have been indicted in connection with the investigation into the death of Epstein, per a senior law enforcement official.
A grand jury indicted the pair on six counts connected to falsifying prison records after they were on duty at a Manhattan federal prison the night before Epstein was found dead by suicide on August 10. According to the indictment, both guards scrolled online and sat at their desk in the common area of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, a mere 15 feet away from Epstein’s cell. However, neither Thomas nor Noel conducted rounds that night. The indictment even states that the pair appeared to be asleep for nearly two hours.
Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time, sources told NBC News, and was discovered by the guards at 6:30 a.m. when they went into the unit to deliver breakfast. Three minutes later an alarm was activated, where, per the indictment, Noel told a supervisor, “Epstein hung himself” and admitted that she and Thomas never completed the 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. rounds. The guards are charged with falsely signing documents saying the checks were completed at 12 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and that they did rounds at 30-minute intervals.
Allegations of racism have arose against Prince Andrew.
The Mirror reported claims made by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that Andrew had made racist comments about Arabs while at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. Smith made the allegations while co-hosting the LBC election podcast, where she said she was left “slack-jawed with the things that he felt it was appropriate to say.”
“I almost feel like I can’t say it. It was a state dinner for the Saudi royal family and he made racist comments about Arabs that were unbelievable,” Smith said when detailing the remarks. “The fact he thought we might find these amusing was sort of a terrible situation to be in. I don’t think he’s very bright. I don’t think he really understands the way in which he behaves. He’s the worst end of the royal family, I think.”
Smith’s claim came after ex-government aide Rohan Silva alleged the royal made a racist remark to him in 2012. According to his claim, Silva asked the Duke whether the government department responsible for trade “could be doing a better job.” Andrew’s alleged response was, “Well, if you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the n***** in the woodpile.”
“Palace sources categorically denied that Andrew ever used the phrase, insisting he would never use such language,” reports the London Evening Standard.
A Palace spokesperson told the Daily Mail: ‘”HRH has undertaken a considerable amount of work in the Middle East over a period of years and has many friends from the region. He does not tolerate racism in any form.”