The Duke of York has been subject to widespread criticism ever since the death of his associate, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. First convicted of procuring an underage girl for prostitution in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty and served 13 months before being released. He was then arrested once more in July 2019 for charges relating to sex trafficking, but killed himself in jail before his trial.
US authorities continued to investigate Epstein’s alleged international sex trafficking ring after his death, and arrested his ex-girlfriend and supposed ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell earlier this year.
Ms Maxwell, a British socialite, was a close friend of Prince Andrew’s, and is believed to have introduced the Duke to Epstein in around 1999.
She has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to Epstein’s alleged crimes, and is currently waiting for her trial next year behind bars.
Her arrest renewed interest in Andrew’s association with both Epstein and Ms Maxwell.
Ms Maxwell has also just lost a legal battle in the run-up to her trial.
She was trying to keep details about her personal life with Epstein from being used against her in her upcoming case.
Ms Maxwell’s testimonies from a 2015 civil case — brought by Viriginia Roberts Giuffre and settled under seal in 2017 — reportedly include intimate details of her relationship with Epstein.
However, her legal team argued that by using such evidence, her ability to defend herself against the current charges would be reduced.
READ MORE: Andrew may derail key reform Queen Victoria brought to Royal Family
Nigel Cawthorne, author of the newly-released book, ‘Andrew: Epstein and the Palace’, told Express.co.uk: “The decision of the US Court of Appeals to the Second Circuit to deny Prince Andrew’s close friend Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to keep the remaining unpublished depositions under seal has dealt a severe blow to the prince’s return to the frontline of the Royal Family.”
Andrew has denied any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes, but after attempting to explain his association with the disgraced financier during a “car crash” BBC Newsnight interview, he stepped down from his public role last November.
He released a statement acknowledging that his Epstein link had become a “major disruption to my family’s work” and expressed his “regret” of his “ill-judgement association”.
However, it is still unclear how long Andrew would be away from the royal frontline.
As the Queen’s second son, he has been a working royal ever since he left the Royal Navy in 2001.
In response to Mr Cawthorne’s remarks, a source close to the Duke of York told Express.co.uk: “We never comment on supposition or speculation, especially from people engaged in the business of promoting their own book.
“But what we do know is that the Duke has done nothing unlawful and therefore has nothing to fear from the unsealing of any documents from any court case at any time.
“The truth will out, and soon.”
The testimonies, recorded in 2016, also refer to Andrew and a photograph of him with his arm around Ms Roberts Giuffre as Ms Maxwell stands in the background.
Ms Maxwell suggests the photograph might be fake, just as Andrew did during his BBC Newsnight interview.
She said: “I don’t recognise that picture. I’m not sure if that’s a real picture or not.”
There is no indication that Andrew is guilty of any wrongdoing, and he has maintained that he is willing to cooperate with the US authorities as a witness.