Duke of York dismissed pleas to drop Jeffrey Epstein saying he was 'loyal to his friends'

Hayley Dixon
Prince Andrew in Jeffrey Epstein's New York home in 2010 - © 2010 by Mail on Sunday

The Duke of York insisted that he was “loyal to his friends” when he was told to dump Jeffrey Epstein in the wake of his conviction for sex offences, sources have claimed.

Prince Andrew accused a friend who warned him of the dangers of his association with the American financier of being a “puritan” and insisted that he would not abandon him like others had, it is said.

The 59-year-old Royal, who has once again been embroiled in allegations of impropriety following the release of court documents in the US, issued statement on Sunday night saying that he was “appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes”.

The statement added: “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.”

It came a week after the disgraced financier apparently took his own life whilst in prison awaiting trial for sex crimes. 

However the unusual decision to issue a statement led to questions over why he visited Epstein at his Manhattan mansion in 2010, two years after Epstein had admitted having sex with an underage girl and had allegedly been linked to the molestation of 36 others, some as young as 14.

A video of his stay in the New York property, dubbed the “House of Horrors” by some of Epstein’s victims, emerged over the weekend. 

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Duke has said that this was an error of judgement.”

Pictures emerged in 2010 of the Duke and Epstein walking in Central Park

When the pictures emerged at the time of the December 2010 trip of him out walking with Epstein in Central Park Royal aides were said to be tearing their hair out.

The Duke had been warned that his friendship with the convicted paedophile had to come to an end but he had insisted that he would not abandon Epstein like everyone else had, sources told the Telegraph.  

He quit his role as UK trade envoy in 2011 after the fallout from the Central Park photos. 

In 2011 a friend of the Duke’s told Vanity Fair: “After Jeffrey was convicted, I phoned Andrew and told him: ‘You cannot have a relationship with Jeffrey. You can’t do these things.’ And he said, ‘Stop giving me a hard time. You’re such a puritan’.

“From there, our conversation descended into a screaming match, and finally Andrew said, ‘Leave me alone. Jeffrey’s my friend. Being loyal to your friends is a virtue. And I’m going to be loyal to him’.”

The friend claimed that the Prince has a “stubborn streak” and he “does stupid things out of hubris, to show that he can do them”

The Duke will “ignore the truth” about someone if he likes them, and that went both for Epstein and his now ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who was embroiled in a number of scandals.

When asked about the remarks attributed to the Prince, Buckingham Palace said that it did not comment on alleged comments made by members of the Royal Family. 

The Palace has issued strong denials over claims from a woman who said she was forced to have under-age sex with the Duke.

Virginia Roberts photographed with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in early 2001.

Virginia Roberts alleged in court papers in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.

She alleged she had sex with Andrew "three times, including one orgy" in London, at Epstein's New York home, and at an "orgy" on his private island in the Caribbean.

But Buckingham Palace has branded the allegations "false and without any foundation", stating: "Any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors" by the duke was "categorically untrue".

Ms Roberts' allegations were later struck from the court record. In releasing the court papers the Federal Appeals Court in New York noted that materials submitted to a court should not be understood as firm findings or 'some sort of marker of reliability',