It’s become a game of they said, he said.
Back in Nov. 2019, Queen Elizabeth II’s 59-year-old son Prince Andrew decided to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.” That decision followed a “car crash” BBC interview, during which the Duke of York was asked: why did you stay at Jeffrey Epstein’s home after Epstein’s first arrest and pseudo-jailing in 2008 on charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution?
Prince Andrew’s answer–“it was a convenient place to stay”–was not exactly received well, particularly because Virginia Roberts Giuffre has alleged that Epstein sex-trafficked her to the prince. But in his statement stepping away from public life, Prince Andrew said he regretted his “ill-judged association” with Epstein, sympathized with Epstein’s victims, and said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
U.S. prosecutors called out the prince this week, saying that the offer to cooperate in ongoing investigations was utterly empty. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said during a press conference outside of Epstein’s infamous Manhattan mansion that the royal had not responded to interview requests. Prosecutors in the SDNY brought sex trafficking charges against Epstein in July 2019, but Epstein was never brought to justice. He officially died by suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August, under circumstances widely known to the public.
“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” Berman said, bluntly. “It’s fair for people to know whether Prince Andrew has followed through with that public commitment.”
The scandal-enmeshed royal reacted with shock and appall. How could they say this about me?; even though I offered to help they never asked me to help!–was the gist of the response offered through an anonymous source. According to the Telegraph, Andrew was “angry and bewildered” by claims of actual unwillingness to cooperate. An unnamed source said to be close to him was quoted as saying that “Nothing could be further from the truth” about Andrew.
“The Duke is more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn’t been approached by them yet,” the person continued. “He is angry about the way this is being portrayed and bewildered as to why this was said in New York. It seems certain people are jumping the gun.”
Andrew says he cut ties with Epstein in 2010, a couple of years after the convicted sex offender was sentenced in Florida state court on two counts for soliciting prostitution from a minor. There is a photo of them taking a stroll in Central Park in 2010.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Prince Andrew has said of Giuffre, though there is a picture of them together (he has claimed it’s fake). “It didn’t happen.”
Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with the royal family member on three separate occasions between 2001 and 2002. Giuffre previously described the first time she met Andrew in an interview on NBC’s Dateline:
The first time in London, I was so young. Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and she said, “you’re gonna meet a prince today.” I didn’t know at that point that I was going to be trafficked to that prince. And then that night Prince Andrew came to her house in London. And we went out to club Tramp. Prince Andrew got me alcohol. It was in the VIP section. I’m pretty sure it was vodka. Prince Andrew was like, “Let’s dance together.” And I was like, “Okay.” And we leave club Tramp. And I hop in the car with Ghislaine and Jeffrey. And Ghislaine said, “He’s coming back to the house. And I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein.” I couldn’t believe it.
“He denies that it ever happened,” Giuffre added. “And he’s going to keep denying that it ever happened. But he knows the truth. And I know the truth.”
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[Image via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]