Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein: what you need to know

Lucy Osborne
Photograph: David Mariuz/EPA

Analysis of legal papers, 20 years of newspaper reports and Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs shows that the deceased financier and convicted sex offender’s friendship with Prince Andrew may have been closer than formerly realised.

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Here, the Guardian answers some of the key questions about the allegations against the Duke of York and his relationship with Epstein. We also consider important but lesser-known details from accusers and witnesses.

How did Jeffrey Epstein meet the Duke of York?

Prince Andrew said in his interview with BBC Newsnight last month he met Epstein in 1999, through Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the disgraced press baron Robert Maxwell, has been accused by a number of women of being complicit with Epstein in sex trafficking and abuse and, in some cases, partaking in it. She has denied all allegations against her.

While it is not disputed that Prince Andrew met Epstein through Maxwell, some have suggested they met earlier than 1999. A 2011 letter to the Times of London from the prince’s then private secretary, Alastair Watson, suggests the pair knew each other from the early 1990s.

How close were Andrew and Epstein?

Prince Andrew says he and Epstein were “not that close”.

However, the pair attended several private dinners, parties and fundraisers together, including a birthday party the prince threw for Maxwell at Sandringham House, the private residence of the Queen, in 2000. The same year, Epstein and the prince partied with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

The following year, Andrew and Epstein went on holiday together and were pictured on a yacht in Phuket, Thailand, surrounded by topless young women. The Times of London reported that the prince’s holiday was paid for by Epstein.

A Channel 4 Dispatches programme discovered that over 12 years, from 1999, Epstein and Andrew met on at least 10 occasions, the prince staying for several days at a time at Epstein’s residences in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands.

Epstein even attended an 18th birthday party for Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice, at Windsor Castle in 2006, two months after he had been issued an arrest warrant for sexual assault of a minor. The prince said he was unaware of the warrant and that Epstein attended as Maxwell’s guest.

The prince told the BBC he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, because “the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful”.

How significant is Andrew’s relationship with Maxwell?

Prince Andrew is alleged to have had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre for the first time at Maxwell’s London home.

The prince and Maxwell are known to have been together at least a dozen times between 1999 and 2001. For instance, they were pictured at Heidi Klum’s “hookers and pimps” fancy dress party in October 2000, a month after being pictured at the wedding of a mutual friend. There was speculation the pair were dating.

Maxwell is reported to have introduced the prince to at least one person he dated.

An email exchange between Andrew and Maxwell, days after the prince was named in US court documents submitted by Roberts Giuffre, suggests he was asking for help in responding to the allegations.

In the 2015 emails, unearthed in a BBC Panorama investigation, the prince writes: “Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.”

Maxwell replies: “Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.”

Is it possible Andrew did not meet accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, as he claims?

Andrew claims to have “no recollection” of meeting Roberts Giuffre, despite being pictured with his arm around her in a now notorious photograph said to have been taken by Epstein.

Two men who say they saw the original picture say it is genuine, but friends of Andrew told the London Evening Standard they thought it was fake, claiming Andrew’s fingers are “much chubbier” in real life.

In an interview with BBC Panorama, Roberts Giuffre insisted the photo was real, saying she gave the original to the FBI in 2001 and adding: “There’s a date on the back of it from when it was printed.”

How many times does Roberts Giuffre allege she and Andrew had sex?

Three times.

What is Andrew’s response to the first alleged incident with Roberts Giuffre, in London on 10 March 2001?

Roberts Giuffre claims she was first trafficked by Epstein to have sex with the prince in Maxwell’s London home after dancing with him at Tramp nightclub.

Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight he was not at Tramp but at a children’s birthday party at a Pizza Express restaurant. He “categorically” denies ever having sex with Roberts Giuffre.

Earlier this week, a woman came forward to claim she saw the prince and Roberts Giuffre “feet away” from each other on the dancefloor at the club.

The prince told Newsnight “it’s very difficult to forget” having sex with someone, because it’s a “positive act for a man”.

What about the second alleged incident?

Roberts Giuffre alleges she had sex with Andrew a second time at Epstein’s New York mansion, while she was Epstein’s “sex slave”. Andrew says this cannot be true because he was busy on official duties.

However, a former aide told the Telegraph Andrew had “gaps” in his diary and was allegedly unaccompanied for several hours in New York at a time when Roberts Giuffre was in the US and says they had sex.

She says: “I was very surprised to see him again. Epstein and Maxwell were making lewd jokes about ‘Randy Andy’ … I had sex with Andy there. I was only paid $400 from Epstein for servicing Andy that time.”

And the third alleged incident on Epstein’s Island, Little St James?

In evidence to a Florida court in 2015, Roberts Giuffre wrote: “The third time I had sex with Andy was in an orgy on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

“I was around 18 at the time. Epstein, Andy, approximately eight other young girls, and I had sex together. The other girls all seemed and appeared to be under the age of 18 and didn’t really speak English.”

Related: 'Prince Andrew can't slink away from this now' – the TV triumph of Virginia Giuffre

Roberts Giuffre’s allegations were struck from the US court record in 2015.

Prince Andrew denies all the allegations.

Are there other allegations?

Johanna Sjoberg claims Prince Andrew fondled her breast at Epstein’s New York home on the same night as Roberts Giuffre’s second allegation, when she was 21. The prince has denied any sexual contact with Sjoberg.

In a defamation suit filed against Maxwell by Roberts Giuffre in 2015, Sjoberg says she, Roberts Giuffre and another female were invited to sit on Andrew’s lap to pose for a photo with him and his Spitting Image puppet.

She said: “Virginia … sat on a chair and had the puppet on her lap. Andrew sat on another chair, I sat on his lap – and he put his hand on my breast. Ghislaine put the puppet’s hand on Virginia’s breast, then Andrew put his hand on mine. It was a great joke.”

Differences between Giuffre and Sjoberg’s recollections of this night have been noted. Asked about accusations of inconsistency during her BBC Panorama interview, Roberts Giuffre said: “You are left with a foggy memory sometimes, you really are. I might be wrong on dates absolutely and I might be wrong on places even, sometimes … But one thing that I can tell you is you never forget the face of someone who has heaved over you.”

Last month, Sjoberg said she was prepared to share her claims with the FBI.

What do others say who witnessed Andrew and Epstein together?

Prince Andrew was seen inside the New York home of Epstein getting a foot massage from a young woman, according to emails between a literary agent, John Brockman, and author Evgeny Morozov.

Brockman is reported to have said: “Last time I visited his house, 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.”

Brockman writes that the prince complained about his public profile.

“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,” the emails describe him as saying.

At that point, Brockman writes: “I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was his Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York.”

What can we learn from Epstein’s flight logs?

Prince Andrew flew on Epstein’s private plane at least four times, once to Edinburgh, once to the Virgin Islands and twice to Palm Beach. Six weeks after Epstein was arrested for sex offences on 1 September 2006, the prince flew from London Luton to Edinburgh on Epstein’s plane with Maxwell.

An analysis of the flight logs by Channel 4’s Dispatches found that on 16 April 1998, Epstein met “Princess Sarah Ferguson and kids” on the ground in Nassau in the Bahamas.

The flight logs also confirm that Roberts Giuffre was in London on the night of her first alleged meeting with the prince.

Related: Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell owe it to their accusers to appear in court | Gaby Hinsliff

How does Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, fit into all this?

In December 2010, the Duchess of York was given £15,000 by Epstein to help pay off her debts, just 18 months after he was released from jail for soliciting prostitution from underage girls. The Duchess later claimed her judgment had been “clouded” by her desperation to get out of her £5m debt and vowed to repay the money.

She is understood to have visited Epstein’s properties several times.

The Duchess told the Evening Standard: “I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me.”

What now for Andrew?

The prince has stepped down from official duties.

Five Epstein accusers want him to give evidence in US courts, saying he must talk to the FBI. Their lawyer, David Boies, claims Andrew witnessed men being given massages at the financier’s homes. Pre-trial witness subpoenas have been prepared for the five cases and could be served on the prince if he sets foot in the US again.