The Truth About Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew

In many ways, Jeffrey Epstein epitomizes the modern monster. The American financier was arrested in July 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking minors and died in his jail cell one month later in what has been ruled a suicide. In life, he wrecked the lives of underage girls and embodied the dangerous excesses of the rich and powerful. And in death, Epstein has become a specter that continues to haunt us as we discover the other rich and powerful people that were associated with him.

One such person is Britain’s Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. In August 2021, the Duke of York was served a civil lawsuit in the U.S. by Virginia Giuffre, 38, who is suing him for alleged sexual abuse when she was a minor. She claims that she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17. If the case is not settled out of court, it could go to trial in the fall of 2022.

The massive scandal of Prince Andrew’s associations with Epstein were enough to cause Queen Elizabeth to revoke his military affiliations and royal patronages. But where did this scandal start, and what does the future hold for Prince Andrew?

To discover those answers, we must get to the bottom of the truth about Prince Andrew’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

How the controversy started

At first, an association between Jeffrey Epstein (an American businessman) and Prince Andrew (a British royal) seems unlikely. So how did the world first discover the connections between these two men?

It all starts back in 2011. That was when the photographer Jae Donnelly snapped a picture of Andrew and Epstein deep in conversation while walking through Central Park. Epstein was already infamous for his sketchy behavior, having filed 17 out-of-court settlements by this time. So the sight of Epstein and a British prince hanging out together raised eyebrows all over the world.

Things really took off, though, when Virginia Roberts Giuffre saw the picture in question. She would later allege that Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her into sexual slavery where she was forced to have sex with Epstein and his friends. This was already shocking enough, but she would later allege that she was only 17 when she met and had sex with Prince Andrew.

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The role of Ghislaine Maxwell

As we noted before, Jeffrey Epstein remains the primary villain of this piece. But according to Giuffre, Ghislaine Maxwell helped facilitate much of what she went through. And that included her initial meeting with Prince Andrew.

According to the Daily Mail, Giuffre was traveling the world with Epstein and getting paid to have sex with Epstein and his friends. At one point, they traveled to Maxwell’s home in London. And the next morning, Maxwell told Giuffre that it was going to be a special day. “Get up, sleepyhead,” she told Giuffre. “You’ve got a big day. We’ve got to go shopping. You need a dress as you’re going to dance with a Prince tonight.”

Giuffre claims Maxwell wanted her to be “‘smiley’ and ‘bubbly’ because he was the queen’s son.” She was excited to meet royalty, and she requested a picture with Prince Andrew. In many ways, it would be this picture that led to Andrew’s downfall.

Photographic evidence

Later, Giuffre would tell the Daily Mail that she danced that night with Prince Andrew at the Tramp nightclub. There were two more alleged encounters at Epstein’s New York home and Epstein’s island, Little St. James.

When Giuffre’s allegations came out, Andrew relied on the classic tactic of the rich and powerful: deny, deny, deny. But there was just one problem: a picture showing Andrew at a private party in the company of an underage girl.

By the time Andrew tried to defend himself via a disastrous BBC interview (more on this later), he knew the photo was very damning. And as The Sun reports, Andrew tried to imply that the photo was manipulated. “That’s me, but whether that’s my hand or whether that’s the position I… we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand.”

Andrew also claimed that the photo in question was “a photograph of a photograph of a photograph.” However, Giuffre turned the original image (and 19 more) over to the FBI back in 2011. So, there’s no real reason to believe this image was manipulated or inaccurate in any way.

Part of what worried Andrew about this photo was Giuffre’s claim that it was Epstein himself that took the photo. If true, this would now be another photo that tied the two men together. Andrew claimed that it couldn’t be Epstein that even took the photo because Andrew had never seen the other man “with a camera in my life.”

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Andrew’s case goes from bad to worse

When the Daily Mail broke the original story, things simply looked bad for Andrew but not damning. Photographic evidence of the prince hanging out with a known sex offender was pretty bad, but as the Daily Mail reported at the time, “There is no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.”

Things got worse for Andrew and his public image, though, in subsequent years. It started when Ghislaine Maxwell claimed that Giuffre was lying. This resulted in Giuffre suing Maxwell for defamation. And in paperwork Giuffre filed during the case, she alleged that Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince when she was 17.

This was back in 2015, but the world didn’t hear these more salacious details because her statements were struck from the court’s official record. But four years later, everything changed once Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for sex trafficking.

How Epstein’s death focused everyone on Andrew

Less than a month after Epstein was arrested, he died in his cell on August 10, 2019. His death was officially ruled a suicide, and this launched countless conspiracy theories. And as a result of Epstein’s death, those court documents from 2015 were unsealed, and Giuffre’s claims against Andrew were more damning than ever before.

In addition to being allegedly forced to have sex with the prince, Giuffre’s account of events includes them having sex on three different occasions. This forced Buckingham Palace to vehemently deny all of the allegations against Andrew.

But the writing was on the wall for Andrew. Epstein was now dead, so the focus was on Andrew as the most powerful person at the center of this scandal. And the unsealed court records meant that media outlets all around the world were trying to get Andrew to say something in his own defense.

He eventually did just that in a BBC interview. But rather than making himself look innocent, Andrew’s onscreen testimony made him look guiltier than ever before.

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Prince Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview

In November 2019, Prince Andrew agreed to an unrestricted interview on the BBC program Newsnight. His interviewer was veteran journalist Emily Maitlis, who had previously interviewed powerful people such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Boris Johnson. For his interview, Andrew did not agree to any customary restrictions such as limiting what he would discuss or limiting how long he would take questions on certain matters.

Most of the interview has what you’d expect: Andrew either denying or clarifying certain things. He claimed that he wasn’t friends with Epstein but instead that he wanted Epstein’s advice on how to approach his new position as special representative for international trade and investment. As Andrew put it, Epstein “had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together, and that’s the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations. I mean, it was a cosmopolitan group of what I describe as U.S. eminents.”

Maitlis, however, pointed out that the Central Park photo was taken after Epstein became a convicted sex offender. She wanted to know why Andrew was hanging out with such a person, and the prince claimed that photo was taken during a trip where he explicitly went to break off all relations with Epstein.

Eventually, Andrew tripled down on denying that he went to the Tramp nightclub, denying that he ever met Giuffre at all, and denying (as we noted before) that the photo of him and Giuffre was real.

Unbeknownst to Andrew, he was already digging a really big hole for himself. And all that digging was about to hit rock bottom.

The fall of a prince

Eventually, Andrew said this about Epstein: “Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.” And this statement was effectively the beginning of the end for the prince.

Maitlis immediately responded with what audiences were likely thinking: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.” And, as she pointed out to Andrew, “You stayed with him.”

To this, a somewhat stammering prince responded with “I stayed with him, and that’s… that’s… that’s the bit that… that… that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis, because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”

Things began to move fast after the interview was over. Tabloids, media outlets, and the general public quickly seized on the fact that Andrew was unapologetic about his friendship with Epstein. And his excuses and denials were more than a little fishy.

Different people began coming forward to cast doubt on Andrew’s claims. As Vanity Fair reports, a London citizen named Shukri Walker claimed that she did see Andrew at Tramp on the night he denied being there, and she saw him dancing with Giuffre. 

Part of Andrew’s defense was that he wasn’t at Tramp that night because he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to a party at PizzaExpress in Woking. But a retired palace guard recalled Andrew returning to the palace early that evening. The guard speculated that Andrew would have theoretically had time to return to the palace and then visit Tramp and then Maxwell’s house.

Eventually, fed up with all the denials, Giuffre formally filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew in August 2021. Andrew tried, and failed, to get the lawsuit dismissed. One day after a judge denied Andrew’s appeal, Buckingham Palace revoked Andrew’s military affiliations and royal patronages.

In other words, Andrew will not be defending himself as a member of the Royal Family. He is merely a private citizen who already managed to lose his royal title and more than a bit of his dignity. And once the lawsuit goes to court, he stands to lose much, much more.

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