What has Prince Andrew said about his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell?

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·Royal Correspondent
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File photo dated 02/09/00 Ghislaine Maxwell, with the Duke of York leaves the wedding of a former girlfriend of the Duke, Aurelia Cecil, at the Parish Church of St Michael in Compton Chamberlayne near Salisbury. British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is to be charged over her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of girls by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said.
Ghislaine Maxwell, with the Duke of York leaves the wedding of a former girlfriend of the Duke, Aurelia Cecil in 2000. (PA images)

The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell has thrown Prince Andrew back into the spotlight, with US authorities repeating they want testimony to help with the investigation into Jeffrey Esptein.

Epstein took his own life when he was in prison awaiting trial for sex offences.

On Thursday, Maxwell was charged with helping Epstein to sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls over a three-year period in the 1990s.

How well did they know each other?

British socialite Maxwell was friends with Andrew, having met at university, and is understood to be the one who introduced him to her former boyfriend Epstein.

In 2000, Andrew and Maxwell were seen together in Thailand at a “hooker and pimps” party.

He also attended a wedding with her in the same year, pictured with her at the nuptials of his former girlfriend.

And all three were pictured together at Royal Ascot that year.

According to Panorama, Maxwell and Andrew spoke via email in 2015, when the allegations against the royal first surfaced from Ms Roberts.

The Duke of York as he attends The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim. (Photo by Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images)
Andrew denies the allegations against him. (Getty Images)

Read more: Prince Andrew 'subjecting' Epstein victims to 'torture test' by not speaking out, says lawyer

He allegedly wrote: “Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.”

She replied: “Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.”

What has Andrew said about Maxwell?

Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties after a disastrous interview with the BBC, in which he had tried to lay out his relationship with the disgraced financier.

In the interview, he deflected any idea of a “friendship” with Epstein by framing it through the lens of his closeness with Maxwell. He described Epstein as her “plus one”.

He was asked if he had thrown a birthday party for Maxwell in Sandringham, and replied: “No, it was a shooting weekend.”

He also admitted to visiting her home in Belgravia, London, and insisted he invited Epstein to places because of his association with her.

Andrew was asked: “In July he was invited to Windsor Castle to your daughter, Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday, why would you do that?”

The duke replied: “Because I was asking Ghislaine. But even so, at the time I don't think I… certainly I wasn't aware when the invitation was issued what was going on in the United States and I wasn't aware until the media picked up on it because he never said anything about it.”

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew, Duke of York attend church at St Mary the Virgin at Hillington in Sandringham on January 19, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The prince is rarely seen in public now, but was with the Queen at church in January. (Getty Images)

Read more: Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? The London socialite now accused of being paedophile’s procuress

When presented with a photograph of himself with Roberts and Maxwell - apparently taken in Maxwell’s London home - the duke said he had no recollection of it being taken, nor of being “upstairs in Ghislaine's house”.

He told Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis: “Yeah, because the dining room and everything was on the ground floor, was as you came in… as you came in the hall. So I don't remember ever going up there. I'm at a loss to explain this particular photograph. If the original was ever produced, then perhaps we might be able to solve it but I can't.”

Maitlis also confronted the duke with the claims at the time that Maxwell was “complicit” in Epstein’s behaviour.

He said: “That bit I can't help you with because I've no idea.”

Virginia Roberts holds a photo of herself at age 16, when she says Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein began abusing her sexually. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Virginia Roberts says she was abused by the Duke of York. (Getty Images)

He added: “If there are questions that Ghislaine has to answer, that's her problem I'm afraid, I'm not in a position to be able to comment one way or the other.”

Read more: 'Come and talk to us': US prosecutor calls for Prince Andrew to speak to FBI after Ghislaine Maxwell charged over child sex abuse crimes

When did they last meet?

The duke, who is father to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, has said he last saw Maxwell in London sometime in the spring or summer of 2019.

It’s thought that date was 5 June.

He said: “She was here doing some rally.”

Asked if he saw her after Epstein’s arrest, he said: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, this was… this was early spring I think, it was long… because when was he arrested?”

Answering whether he had spoken to her about Epstein, he replied: “No, actually, funnily enough, no, not at all, there wasn't anything to discuss about him because he wasn't in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on.”

Both Maxwell and Andrew deny all allegations of wrongdoing.

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