The Duke of York has told friends he fears never being able to return to the US with the Jeffrey Epstein case hanging over his head.
Andrew has not set foot in the country since early 2017 and sources say plans to launch a business initiative there later this year have been put on ice.
According to the Mail’s sources, the prince is concerned about being drawn into civil proceedings brought by some of paedophile Epstein’s many victims.
At least five women who say they were abused by the financier have filed lawsuits against his £458million estate after he was found hanged in his New York prison cell on August 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has told friends he fears never being able to return to the US with the Jeffrey Epstein case hanging over his head
Since Epstein’s arrest last month, Andrew has been trying to distance himself from his old friend, declaring himself ‘appalled’ by reports of the ‘alleged crimes’.
But the efforts have been undermined by the emergence of details of how he hosted the paedophile at Balmoral, and by pictures of the royal at Epstein’s New York mansion in 2010 – two years after the banker had been convicted of sex with a child.
The insider told the Mail: ‘Andrew has openly said he can’t see how he can go back to the US at the moment with everything that is going on.
‘I know this is a source of enormous frustration for him as it is one of his favourite places in the world to go.’ The source said that the prince had held ‘high hopes’ of taking his successful Pitch@Palace scheme – a Dragons’ Den-style initiative for entrepreneurs – to the States in the next year or so.
Andrew’s (left) friendship with Epstein (right) goes back to least 1999. In 2000 the financier and his ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, were invited by Andrew to a party at Windsor Castle thrown by the Queen
It something he is believed to have raised when US President Donald Trump – another former friend of Epstein – came to the UK for his state visit earlier this year.
The two men had already met when Mr Trump threw a private lunch for Andrew at Trump Tower on a visit to New York in September 2006.
But the source added: ‘Plans to take Pitch to the US have definitely been put on ice for the time being. Andrew is very disappointed as he has long been very keen to get a foothold out there with it.’
Andrew’s friendship with Epstein goes back to least 1999. In 2000 the financier and his ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, were invited by Andrew to a party at Windsor Castle thrown by the Queen.
Andrew travelled to the States twice on official business in 2013, taking in Florida, California and New York but there was no publicly-recorded trip in either 2014, 2015 or 2016. He visited again in May 2017, travelling around California (pictured), but has not gone back since and has no plans to go for the foreseeable future
Miss Maxwell, also a friend of Andrew, has been accused by some of Epstein’s victims of being his ‘procurer’, a charge she denies.
Epstein and Miss Maxwell were also guests of Andrew at the Queen’s Sandringham and Balmoral Estates and holidayed with him in Florida and Thailand.
In 2011 Andrew was forced to quit as a UK trade envoy after being pictured meeting Epstein after his release from a child sex jail term.
Andrew travelled to the States twice on official business in 2013, taking in Florida, California and New York but there was no publicly-recorded trip in either 2014, 2015 or 2016. He visited again in May 2017, travelling around California, but has not gone back since and has no plans to go for the foreseeable future.
One of the women who have filed lawsuits against Epstein’s estate – Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre – has also claimed she was forced by Epstein to have sex with Andrew on three occasions between 1999 and 2001.
The allegations, first made in 2015, were officially struck from the court records by a judge, who ruled they were ‘immaterial’, and there is no suggestion Andrew has anything to personally fear in respect of those allegations.
But sources close to the royal say he appears to be sufficiently concerned about being at being forced to co-operate over other allegations against Epstein not to travel back to the US.
The Duke of York has been keeping a low profile by playing golf at Valderra main the luxurious development of Sotogrande and
Just days ago Miss Roberts’s lawyer Brad Edwards urged the prince to co-operate in order to help the victims of Epstein secure justice. He said: ‘I look forward to co-ordinating a formal deposition where he will be given the opportunity to tell us everything he knows.’
US legal experts say that if Andrew is considered to have information relevant to any of the civil proceedings, someone might want to ‘depose’ him – ask him to give a statement.
It is also possible he could also be considered a witness in any criminal proceedings surrounding Epstein’s death.
Lawyers say it would be difficult to force him to go to the US to give evidence but, if he were to set foot in the country, he could be subpoenaed for his testimony.
In response to the Mail’s story, Buckingham Palace said: ‘We would not comment on alleged conversations or the speculative premise behind the question but would point out that the case you are referring to relates to proceedings in the United States, to which the Duke of York is not a party. Any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors is categorically untrue.
‘It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.’
A source said that when working as Special Representative for International Trade and Investment between 2001 and 2011, Andrew was asked to travel regularly to the US.
Since relinquishing this role in 2011, they maintained Andrew had continued to travel to the US, but claimed that his focus, particularly with Pitch@Palaces, had been on ‘other markets’.
Now French probe sex trafficking ring
French prosecutors have opened an inquiry into claims of rape and sexual abuse against Epstein.
They said the allegations involve women and girls as young as 15. Prosecutors will also investigate claims that he and others participated in a vast child sex trafficking ring for years.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said: ‘The investigations will focus on potential crimes committed against French victims on national territory as well as abroad and on suspects who are French citizens.’
The move came after US investigators turned up links in France to the disgraced financier, who died this month while awaiting trial on new sex trafficking charges. Epstein had just arrived in the US from Paris, where he owned an expensive apartment, when he was arrested.
One of Epstein’s close friends was the French modelling tycoon Jean-Luc Brunel, who was accused in court documents of procuring young girls for Epstein and rape. Brunel has denied the accusations but has not been heard of since the financier was charged in early July.
Prince ‘was given foot massage by 2 Russian women at Epstein mansion’
Prince Andrew was seen inside the New York apartment of Jeffrey Epstein being given a foot massage by two young Russian women, according to a report in the US.
Literary agent John Brockman said he walked into the Upper East Side mansion to find a middle-aged Englishman being given the massage.
The man, who wore a suit and braces, was introduced to Mr Brockman, an influential agent representing leading science writers, as ‘Andy’.
It was only when ‘Andy’ started to complain bitterly that, unlike him, Prince Albert of Monaco could misbehave as he liked in private and get away with it that his identity dawned on Mr Brockman.
Prince Andrew was photographed at Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion in 2010 waving off a lady who was seen coming and going through the front door
‘At that point I realised that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York,’ he told a client in an email exchange published in a US magazine.
The incident, which appears to date from early 2011 following Epstein’s release from prison on a child sex conviction, provides further potentially compromising evidence of the Duke’s relationship with the alleged paedophile and sex trafficker.
Although Buckingham Palace refused to comment yesterday on Mr Brockman’s account, it will put further pressure on Prince Andrew to explain his involvement with Epstein.
The financier was found hanged in his jail cell on August 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Commenting on behalf of the prince, a Palace spokesman said last night: ‘We would reiterate our earlier statement, “Any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors is categorically untrue”.’
Mr Brockman’s description of his brief encounter with Andrew – which a Palace insider insisted was ‘not an account we recognise’ – would roughly tally with a reported four-day stay he had at Epstein’s home over Christmas in 2010.
The prince was guest of honour at a ‘welcome home’ party for Epstein, recently released from a Florida prison. During his stay, a string of attractive young women were pictured coming and going. In a recently released video, the Duke was seen furtively waving goodbye to one, later identified as former Australian prime minister Paul Keating’s daughter Katherine.
Mr Brockman has now shed light on what might have been going on behind the front door of Epstein’s palatial 71st Street home.
Others who mixed with Epstein have also recounted how his royal friend was referred to simply as ‘Andy’ and how they didn’t immediately realise who he was.
Email that put spotlight on Andrew
From: John Brockman
To: Evgeny Morozov
Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women.
After grilling me for a while about cyber-security, the Brit, named Andy, was commenting on the Swedish authorities and the charges against Julian Assange…
At that point I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Mr Brockman’s meeting with the prince was revealed by science writer Evgeny Morozov, who Mr Brockman had urged to meet Epstein, a generous donor to scientific projects. In an email exchange dated September 2013, Mr Brockman wrote: ‘Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders [braces], getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women.
‘After grilling me for a while about cyber security, the Brit, named Andy, was commenting on the Swedish authorities and the charges against Julian Assange. “We think they’re liberal in Sweden, but it’s more like Northern England as opposed to Southern Europe,” he said.’
The Duke, said Mr Brockman, added: ‘In Monaco, Albert works 12 hours a day but at 9pm, when he goes out, he does whatever he wants, and nobody cares. But if I do it, I’m in big trouble.’
Mr Brockman said he only then realised who he was talking to. He said that a week later, the New York Post ran a picture of Andrew and Epstein walking in Central Park under the headline ‘The Prince and the Perv’. In the ensuing furore, the Duke gave up his role as UK trade ambassador.
Mr Morozov said Mr Brockman was clearly ‘acting as Epstein’s PR man’, vaguely mentioning his controversial history in the email by saying ‘he got into trouble and spent a year in jail in Florida’.
The prince said last week that he was ‘appalled’ by the reports of Epstein’s ‘alleged crimes’.