Buckingham Palace said that Prince Andrew is “appalled” over the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse claims, following the publication of images of the Duke of York at Epstein’s New York home in 2010.
The palace statement came hours after UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday published footage of Andrew at Epstein’s Manhattan residence in which he is seen looking out from a large door and waving a cheerful goodbye to a young woman.
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” read the statement emailed Monday to The Washington Post. “His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”
The video footage reportedly was taken in 2010, when Epstein was a registered sex offender who had served time in jail.
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A picture of Andrew and Epstein strolling in Central Park from around the same time surfaced in 2011, prompting questions over Andrew’s judgment. Shortly after, he quit his unpaid job as a trade envoy.
Andrew’s connections to Epstein came under fresh scrutiny following newly unsealed legal documents on August 9. Less than 24 hours later, Epstein was found dead in his prison cell. New York City’s medical examiner officially ruled his death a suicide by hanging.
The cache of court documents included a photograph of the prince with his arm around the waist of Virginia Roberts, then 17, who claimed that she was paid by Epstein for sexual encounters with the prince. The photograph first appeared in the British press in 2011.
Buckingham Palace doesn’t usually comment on scandalous accusations, but it has repeatedly issued statements denying any wrongdoing by Andrew.
Andrew has long been dogged by questions over his friendship with Epstein. The two reportedly first met in the late 1990s, introduced by Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who accusers say was Epstein’s girlfriend and madam.
According to the Sun tabloid, Andrew was recently spotted in Spain with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. The two were married between 1986 and 1996 and remain on good terms.
Ferguson has also been criticised for her connections to Epstein, having accepted money from the disgraced financier to help pay off her debts. She called it a “gigantic error of judgment.”
Andrew is the queen’s second son. Royal watchers said that the queen was showing her support for Andrew when she was pictured travelling with him to a church service in Scotland last weekend.