Prince Andrew has made a number of public and costly mistakes in his lifetime. But none of those mistakes have been worse than his friendship with convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
For years, Andrew, 62, has denied accusations from 38-year-old American woman Virginia Giuffre that Epstein and Maxwell sex trafficked her to Andrew when she was underage. Last year, Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Andrew, and Andrew recently settled with her out-of-court rather than having more details of his private life going public in a trial.
But how did this happen? How did a royal prince befriend two sex offenders? To get to the bottom of this, we constructed a timeline of Andrew’s friendship with Epstein and Maxwell.
Early 1980s: Andrew meets Maxwell
While it was his friendship with American financier Epstein that landed Andrew in the most trouble, this whole sordid affair began a bit earlier than most people think. Specifically, it began in the early 1980s, when Andrew met British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell when she was still attending university. At the time, she was attending Oxford and Andrew was serving in the Royal Navy.
This was when the two began a lifelong friendship that many speculate blossomed into romance. And Andrew’s friendship with Maxwell meant he would eventually meet another of her friends: Jeffrey Epstein.
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1999: Maxwell introduces Andrew to Epstein
1999 was a pretty big year for Andrew, Epstein, and Maxwell. And in many ways, it was the beginning of the end for all involved.
This was the year that Maxwell introduced Andrew and Epstein. And that year, Andrew flew to Epstein’s private island, Little St. James. They apparently hit it off, and Andrew allegedly invited both Epstein and Maxwell to Balmoral, better known as Queen Elizabeth’s royal residence in Scotland.
2000: Andrew invites Epstein and Maxwell to Windsor Castle
If you thought Epstein and Maxwell were cozy with royalty before, the year 2000 really took things to the next level.
That year, Andrew invited Epstein and Maxwell to both Windsor Castle and Sandringham, better known as Queen Elizabeth’s private Norfolk residence. This understandably made Andrew look very guilty after Epstein was convicted, and he maintains that he invited Maxwell and that Epstein was simply her plus-one guest.
But Andrew wasn’t exactly distancing himself from Epstein that same year when he, Andrew, and Maxwell all attended Royal Ascot together in June. Or later that year when the three of them hung out at Mar-a-Lago.
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2001: Andrew is allegedly photographed with accuser Virginia Giuffre at Maxwell’s home
It took many years before Andrew’s problematic dealings with Epstein and Maxwell came to light. But that also meant there were plenty of years of potential evidence against Andrew to pile up.
And in 2001, we got what would later be a smoking gun against the prince. There is a photo, seen above, which Virginia Giuffre claims shows her with Prince Andrew and Maxwell at Maxwell’s home in Belgravia. The photo was allegedly taken by Epstein himself.
Giuffre later claimed that this occasion was when she first had sex with Andrew and that she was underage at the time. Andrew tried to deny much of this (he even claims the photo is fake), but the apparent photographic evidence of his association with Giuffre really hurt his case.
The early 2000s: Andrew’s alleged romance with Maxwell
Rumors circulated for years that Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell were romantically involved. And part of what fueled that speculation is the number of times Andrew spent time with Maxwell and not Epstein.
For example, in September of 2000, they arrived together at the wedding of Aurelia Cecil, someone Andrew had once dated. That same year, the two attended a Halloween party hosted by Heidi Klum in Manhattan. And in early 2001, Andrew and Maxwell took a trip to Thailand together.
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2010: Andrew digs the hole deeper
You might not think Andrew could make things much worse for himself. But that’s exactly what happened in 2010.
At this point, Epstein had already pleaded guilty to the charge of prostituting minors and subsequently spent 18 months in prison. Once he got out of jail, Andrew visited Epstein in New York’s Central Park, where the two of them were photographed together.
Up until this point, the connection between Andrew and Epstein was relatively unknown. Now, though, the world had photographic evidence of a member of the Royal Family hanging out with a convicted sex offender. Footage from later in the year allegedly shows Andrew staying inside Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan.
2011: Andrew experiences consequences
Until 2011, Andrew never really experienced any consequences for his friendship with either Epstein or Maxwell. But after the Central Park photos made the rounds, Andrew ended up quitting his role as the U.K.’s trade envoy. It seemed like the Royal Family wanted to minimize Andrew’s global presence in the wake of these accusations.
2015: Virginia Giuffre accuses Andrew
Via court documents, we would later discover that Virginia Giuffre made her initial accusations against Prince Andrew in 2015. Buckingham Palace denied those accusations, but things would only get worse for the prince in the coming years.
August 2019: Epstein dies in jail cell of apparent suicide
In July 2019, Jeffrey Epstein was back in jail following a new arrest over sex trafficking. And on August 10, 2019, he was found dead in his federal jail cell in Manhattan at the age of 66. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging, though some believe he may have been murdered.
November 2019: Andrew gives a disastrous interview to the BBC
With Epstein gone, Prince Andrew became the most prominent face associated with Epstein and his shady practices. Andrew faced massive public scrutiny following a disastrous Nov. 2019 interview with the BBC, in which he failed to express sympathy for Epstein’s victims.
August 2021: Giuffre sues Andrew
In August 2021, Virginia Giuffre filed a civil lawsuit agains Prince Andrew. She alleged that Andrew raped and sexually assaulted her in New York in 2001 when she was 17. She also claimed that Andrew was aware his friend Jeffrey Epstein trafficked her to him.
December 2021: Maxwell is found guilty
Maxwell, now 60, was found guilty of five federal charges on Dec. 30, 2021: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She is to be sentenced in June 2022, and faces up to 65 years in prison. She is currently being held in a Brooklyn jail.
January 2022: Andrew’s titles are removed by Queen Elizabeth
Andrew’s royal patronages and military titles were revoked by Queen Elizabeth on Jan. 13, 2022, a day after a federal judge refused to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit.
February 2022: Andrew settles the lawsuit
Andrew settled Giuffre’s lawsuit out-of-court for an undisclosed sum on Feb. 15, 2022, likely to avoid the messy drama of a public trial. However, The Telegraph claims that Andrew settled the lawsuit for £12 million (almost $14 million); Queen Elizabeth, who has already spent millions helping Andrew with legal fees, will allegedly be helping him foot the bill.
While Andrew did not admit any guilt on his part in his settlement, his lawyer released a statement that acknowledged Andrew’s regret at associating with Epstein:
“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others. He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”