LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Prince Andrew is “appalled” about the sex abuse claims against Jeffrey Epstein, following the publication of images of the Duke of York at the financier’s New York home in 2010.
The palace statement came hours after the Mail on Sunday published video footage and images of Andrew at Epstein’s Manhattan residence in which he is seen looking out from a large door and cheerfully waving goodbye to a young woman.
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” said the statement emailed to The Washington Post on Monday. “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.”
The footage was reportedly taken in December 2010, when Epstein was a registered sex offender who had served time in jail. It was known that Andrew had met with Epstein around then — a picture of the duo walking in Central Park taken that December prompted questions about Andrew’s judgment. Shortly after the picture surfaced in 2011, Andrew quit his unpaid job as a trade envoy.
But the video footage goes further, showing the prince inside Epstein’s home.
Some commentators pointed out that Epstein had a criminal record at the time.
“I literally don’t understand this,” tweeted Jeremy Vine, a British broadcaster. “Prince Andrew remained friends with Epstein *after* his first conviction in 2008, which was public and contained all the elements he now says he’s appalled by.”
Andrew’s connections to the financier have come under fresh scrutiny in the wake of the unsealing on Aug. 9 of a cache of court documents in a related defamation case. Less than 24 hours later, Epstein, who was in custody on charges of sex trafficking, was found dead in his prison cell. New York City’s medical examiner ruled his death a suicide by hanging.
The legal documents included a photograph of the prince with his arm around the waist of Virginia Roberts, then 17, who said Epstein paid her for sexual encounters with the prince. The photograph first appeared in the British media in 2011.
Buckingham Palace doesn’t usually comment on scandalous accusations related to the royals’ personal lives — the typical approach is to raise the drawbridge and simply say “no comment.” But the palace has repeatedly issued statements denying any wrongdoing by Andrew.
Andrew has long been dogged by questions about his friendship with Epstein. The two reportedly first met in the late 1990s, introduced by Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who accusers say played a role in procuring young girls for Epstein. Maxwell has denied the allegations.
Epstein and Maxwell were known to have visited royal residences. In 2000, Epstein and Maxwell were pictured on a pheasant shoot at Sandringham, the queen’s country estate. They also reportedly attended a party at Windsor Castle that year.
According to the Sun tabloid, Andrew was recently spotted in Spain with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. The two were married from 1986 to 1996 and remain on good terms. Ferguson also has been criticized for her connections to Epstein, having accepted $18,000 from him to help pay off her debts. She later called it a “gigantic error of judgment.”
Andrew, 59, is not a particularly popular member of the royal family and has, over the years, drawn attention for his playboy lifestyle — before his marriage to Ferguson, the British media had labeled him “Randy Andy.”
Andrew is Queen Elizabeth II’s second son. Royal watchers said the queen was demonstrating support for Andrew when she was pictured traveling with him to a church service in Scotland Aug. 11.