From his inability to sweat to his ‘Pizza Express’ story, providing alibis to reject the allegations made by his sex accuser Virginia Roberts has been a painful experience for the Duke of York.
Now, in the final part of the Mail’s forensic investigation into the allegations made against the duke, yet another bizarre excuse has emerged.
This time it counters Miss Roberts’s assertion that the pair went horse riding together during a sex-filled break at Jeffrey Epstein’s New Mexico ranch, Zorro, about 20 years ago.
Prince Andrews is pictured riding at Wellington Arch in London in his role as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards in May 2018
Recalling the alleged trip in her unpublished memoir, Miss Roberts wrote: ‘My job was to entertain him endlessly, whether that meant having to bestow him my body during an erotic massage or simply take him horseback riding.’
However, a friend of the duke told the Mail: ‘It’s well known amongst his family and friends that the duke had a hay fever allergy that was with him all his life. So he gave up horse riding in his teens. The duchess persuaded him to take an acupuncture cure in later life and that dealt with the horse hair allergy as well.
‘So he took up horse riding again in his 50s, took lessons in 2017 and 2018 and was proficient enough for Trooping the Colour in honour of his mother later that year.’ Extensive picture research appears to back up the comment by one of the duke’s most loyal supporters.
Although Andrew has been pictured at horse shows over the years, there was a decades-long gap between him being photographed on horseback as a youngster to images of him in the saddle in recent years.
Andrew and Virginia Roberts are pictured at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in March 2001
Even so, the claim is sure to provoke raised eyebrows, after a litany of similar excuses have fallen apart.
Andrew denies all Miss Roberts’s allegations. The horse allergy alibi emerged in this newspaper’s painstaking investigation into her sex claims against the duke.
In the fourth and final part of our series, we ask questions about her suggestions the pair spent a couple of days together at Epstein’s Zorro ranch when she was a teenager and reveal that a long-serving police bodyguard is certain that she and Andrew were never there together.
Instead, he is sure – based on a contemporaneous Filofax record – that the duke visited the ranch just once with a beautiful American brain surgeon, Melanie Walker, with whom he had a close friendship at the time.
My job there was to entertain him, whether giving erotic massages or taking him riding: What Virginia Roberts wrote in her memoir about trip to meet Prince Andrew… which she later described on oath as ‘inaccurate’
When Virginia Roberts wrote her memoir, The Billionaire’s Playboy Club, she described having had three sexual encounters with the Duke of York.
The first, she said, took place in London when she was just 17, to which she claims to have been trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
The second occurred shortly afterwards at the Epstein mansion in New York.
Then, on page 105 of the manuscript, Miss Roberts describes a final sexual encounter with Andrew. She does so in considerable, if not compelling, detail.
Ghislaine Maxwell had told her to fly to Santa Fe to ‘meet someone there’.
Miss Roberts recalled: ‘It was the middle of the day when I arrived at the airport. One of the ranch hands came to pick me up in a big work truck that smelled like dirt and sweat.
‘When we arrived at the mansion, my guest was already there, waiting for me.
Virginia Roberts claims in her memoir that she had three sexual encounters with Prince Andrew, and that she was trafficked by Jeffery Epstein
‘I couldn’t wipe the look off my face as he turned around from the bookshelf that he was standing at. ‘Hello’ that same old cheesy grin greeted me once again. It was His Highness Prince Andrew, and what a sight.
‘He wrapped his arms around my waist and greeted me like an old friend. I hugged him back, rolling my eyes at the same time, already dreading what lay in store over the next couple of days.
‘My job was to entertain him endlessly, whether that meant having to bestow him my body during an erotic massage or simply take him horseback riding. For the next couple of days he was to be my only concern.’
Miss Roberts and the Duke were the only guests at the ranch, she said. ‘The mansion was completely empty save a couple of maids, who also cooked our dinners for us, and a couple of bodyguards that we hardly even saw at all.
‘The time dragged slowly for me as I was counting down the hours until I flew away again . . . it wasn’t easy meeting the sexual desires of these strange men, the Prince being one of them.
‘He loved my feet and even licked between my toes . . . to me it was a living nightmare.’
On the morning of the second day, Miss Roberts said she was called by one of Epstein’s assistants.
‘I had a flight booked for me to leave that afternoon, to arrive at LaGuardia airport (in New York) in the evening.’
And as far as the memoir’s narrative is concerned, those two days at Zorro were the last time she ever met, let alone had sex with, HRH the Duke of York.
Ms Roberts claimed she spent time with Prince Andrew at Jeffrey Epstein’s 8,000-acre Zorro Ranch in New Mexico. Pictured: A master suite inside the property
The suggestion that Andrew went horse-riding with Miss Roberts is contested by his supporters.
A friend of the Duke said: ‘It’s well known among his family and friends that the Duke had a hay fever allergy that was with him all his life. So he gave up horse-riding in his teens.’
What, then, of pictures that clearly show the Duke on horseback in recent years? Apparently, the allergy has been cured.
‘The [Duchess of York] persuaded him to take an acupuncture cure in later life and that dealt with the horse hair allergy as well,’ says the source.
‘So he took up horse-riding again in his 50s, took lessons in 2017 and 2018, and was proficient enough for Trooping the Colour in honour of his mother, the Queen, later that year. The Duchess often joked that it was just her luck to marry a Prince who didn’t like horse-riding for pleasure — one of her great passions earlier in life.’
2015 . . . VIRGINIA CHANGES HER STORY
Pictured: Virginia Roberts poses outside the Zorro Ranch in New Mexico
In 2015, Miss Roberts attempted to join a legal action that had been brought by two other alleged victims of Epstein against the U.S. authorities in relation to the ‘sweetheart deal of the century’.
This had allowed the paedophile tycoon to escape with a short prison sentence when he was prosecuted in 2007-8.
To support her motion, Miss Roberts submitted a sworn affidavit in which she set out ‘under penalty of perjury’ her allegations against Esptein and his powerful friends who had allegedly abused her.
She included in her affidavit four photographs taken of her during visits to Zorro Ranch.
She alleged in her affidavit that she’d had sex with Epstein’s lawyer, the Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, in a massage room at the ranch.
Dershowitz vehemently denies ever having sex with her. Miss Roberts says of the Duke: ‘I had sex with him three times, including one orgy.’
She describes these occasions, which took place, she says, in London, at Epstein’s New York mansion and at his private island in the Caribbean.
The sexual interlude with the Duke at Zorro Ranch, set out in such detail in her memoir, did not — for whatever reason — feature in her evidence.
DID SOMEONE ELSE MAKE A MISTAKE?
After Ghislaine Maxwell accused her of lying about her paedophile allegations, Miss Roberts brought a defamation action against her.
In November 2016, the abuse victim gave evidence by video link from her home in Australia. ‘Exhibit PP’ is a transcript of part of her deposition which has since been released into the public domain.
Miss Roberts is being cross-examined by Maxwell’s lawyer about perceived inaccuracies in articles about her; particularly those written by the Sunday newspaper journalist to whom she had given her first media interview in 2011.
Pictured: Prince Andrew goes for an early morning drive at Windsor Castle on Monday
Miss Roberts was asked by the lawyer to look at copies of these articles and make ‘checkmarks’ against any of the statements which she considered to be inaccurate.
Maxwell’s lawyer: ‘What’s the next one you have a checkmark by?
Miss Roberts: ‘I also saw Prince Andrew at a ranch in New Mexico.’
Lawyer: ‘Did you tell that to (name of journalist)?
Miss Roberts: ‘No. And I think it’s a mistake. Maybe she meant somewhere else, but because we had been talking about so much, maybe she just put New Mexico.
‘I don’t think (the journalist) intentionally lied on any of these . . . some of the information just got misheard, or mishandled.’
Lawyer: ‘And what was printed was inaccurate?’
Miss Roberts: ‘Was that printed? I don’t remember reading that in the papers, but if it was printed, it’s inaccurate.’
So how are we able to reconcile this assertion with the contents of The Billionaire’s Playboy Club?
According to another court document in May 2011, Miss Roberts sent an email to a journalist in which she boasted of the manuscript: ‘I’m bringing down the house with this book!’
In later cross-examination during the Maxwell defamation case, Miss Roberts insisted that the manuscript was ‘based on fact’. There were, she conceded, ‘some mistakes’.
Mistakes in a story such as this would be natural. The events that Miss Roberts talks about allegedly took place a long time ago. Memories inexorably dissipate and degrade.
Miss Roberts is also a victim of dreadful sexual abuse; she was groomed and trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.
Given all of the trauma that attaches to the memories of that period, conflation and confusion in some of her recollection would be expected.
But, given the two different stories she has told about the alleged goings-on at the ranch in New Mexico, how can we possibly know which one to believe?
The same could be asked of the other three sexual encounters in which Miss Roberts has alleged that the Duke engaged with her.
Her accounts are occasionally inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. Yet Prince Andrew’s denials are simply not good enough to clear his name.
The five key questions for Duke and accuser
Virginia Roberts maintains she had sex with the Duke of York on three occasions: in 2001 in London, in New York and on Jeffrey Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Little St James.
He emphatically denies her claims and says he cannot even recall meeting her, despite a picture of them together at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London house — allegedly taken on March 10 of that year.
As the Mail concludes its ground-breaking forensic investigation into their claims and counter-claims, each party is left with further difficult questions to answer.
1. What was the principal reason behind your long relationship with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein?
2. What happened during your still unexplained ‘private time’ in New York in Easter Week 2001?
3. How much taxpayers’ money did you ‘save’ by staying at Epstein’s mansion in New York?
4. Why did you delay your family holiday in the Bahamas in April 2001 to fly to Epstein’s private island?
5. Do you now understand why you are seen as lacking empathy for how the victims of Epstein must feel?
1. Why in your memoir The Billionaire’s Playboy Club did you not say that the Duke took part in an orgy with you on Little St James, and then allege it in later legal depositions?
2. Why did you claim you had an ‘erotic’ stay with the Duke at Zorro Ranch, then deny such an event took place in questioning under oath?
3. Can you explain why your description of the bath at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home, where you say you had sex with the Duke, is different to the floor plans?
4. Tramp nightclub has never had a VIP area and the Duke never drinks alcohol. Are you certain you went dancing at the club and drank together?
5. Do you recall seeing the Duke on Little St James in April 2001, around four months before the alleged Russian orgy incident involving you, him and others?