Typically regarded as a lesser-known royal, Prince Andrew has been thrust into the headlines thanks to renewed interest in his former friend Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his jail cell this August. Now, the royal is facing tough questions about his ties to the convicted sex offender as well as accusations that he himself slept with at least one underage girl — allegations that a widely criticized BBC interview, which aired Nov. 16, did little to abate.
With the prince in the hot seat and sidelined from his official duties, take a moment to catch up on his background and the scandal that’s rocking the royal family.
Born in 1960, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is the third child and second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He was the first child born to a reigning monarch since 1857 when Queen Victoria gave birth to Princess Beatrice; older siblings Charles and Anne were born prior to their mother becoming the queen. The queen’s youngest child, Prince Edward, was born in 1964.
Though he was second in line to the throne at the time of this birth, behind older brother Prince Charles, the 59-year-old royal is now eighth, behind infant grand-nephew Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
As a member of the Royal Navy, Andrew served as a helicopter co-pilot during the Falklands War — the conflict with Argentina over its invasion of the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory — in 1982. He retired from active naval duty in 2001 and currently holds the title of vice admiral. After retiring from the Royal Navy, he took on the royal position of Special Representative for International Trade and Investment — a position terminated in 2011 as criticism over his connections to Jeffrey Epstein first surfaced.
In 1986, he married longtime friend Sarah Ferguson, popularly known as Fergie. The couple had two daughters, 31-year-old Princess Beatrice and 29-year-old Princess Eugenie, before separating in 1992 and finalizing their divorce in 1996. Eugenie was wed last October to Jack Brooksbank, while Beatrice announced her engagement to property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in September and is reportedly due to marry next spring. It’s unclear if her father’s current scandal will impact her wedding plans.
Andrew has also been romantically linked to American photographer and actress Koo Stark, whom he is rumored to have romanced in the early 1980s. In 2003, he was linked to British businesswoman Amanda Staveley. Andrew is also godfather to Stark’s daughter and she came to his defense in 2015 when accusations about his connections to Jeffrey Epstein first surfaced.
Relationship with Ferguson
Despite their divorce, Andrew and ex-wife Ferguson remain close and have lived together on and off since their split. Their close connection has fueled speculation that the former couple might remarry, a notion both have dismissed. In April, a spokesperson for Ferguson issued a statement saying Ferguson and Prince Andrew "remain good friends as they have been for many years, and nothing has changed." In a 2010 interview with the Daily Mail, the prince spoke of their relationship, describing himself as “being divorced to, and not being divorced from” his former wife.
“It’s why we are good friends,” he said. “And yes, she is living with me at the moment.”
On the subject of remarriage, he said, “We are both in a better place. It’s because we are in a better place which is probably why we are able to remain such close friends. We have two great kids. We do things together as a family.”
Those comments were made just a few months prior to May 2010, when Ferguson was filmed by a reporter for the U.K. tabloid News of the World offering up a meeting with Andrew and his powerful connections in exchange for a substantial loan. When the scandal broke, representatives for the royal denied any involvement, though Ferguson has since credited her ex with helping her clear her debts —thanks in part to funds from Epstein.
Andrew resides at Royal Lodge in Windsor, England, the former home of his maternal grandmother, the Queen Mother. According to Hello, ex-wife Ferguson also uses the Grade II-listed house — which reportedly includes an indoor pool — as a base. Their younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, posed in the lavish home for a 2016 Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot. Located in Windsor Great Park, the residence puts the royal near the Ascot racecourse, Eton and Windsor Castle, site of his nephew Prince Harry’s May 2018 wedding to Meghan Markle, as well as his own daughter Eugenie’s nuptials a few months later.
Jeffrey Epstein scandal
Though Andrew is currently making headlines for his connections to the late multimillionaire and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, outrage over the men’s friendship has been brewing for the better part of a decade. According to the BBC, the prince was introduced to the American financier by their mutual friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, a socialite and former Epstein girlfriend who is accused of procuring women and minors for him to bed. The three friends spent time in the U.S. Virgin Islands together and celebrated at parties thrown by the royal family the following year.
They remained social even as allegations against Epstein surfaced in 2005, when he was accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl. In July 2006, a month after Epstein was charged with one count of solicitation of prostitution, the royal invited him to a masked ball marking Beatrice’s 18th birthday.
Though Epstein struck a plea deal in 2008 that resulted in his conviction for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute — investigators had reportedly found dozens more cases of alleged sexual abuse — Andrew continued to keep his company. Shortly after Epstein completed an 18-month prison sentence, the two men were photographed in Central Park in December 2010 — a trip Andrew insists he made to cut off the friendship.
“I said, ‘Look, because of what has happened, I don't think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact,’” Andrew told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis last month in a televised interview that has been widely panned and blasted as “disastrous.” Though Andrew also attended a dinner party during that 2010 trip and was photographed in Epstein’s home, he denied claims that he was celebrating the financier’s release from prison and said he “never saw” any young girls visiting the property.
But Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who gave her own BBC interview on Monday, disputes that. Giuffre says that, after meeting Epstein at Mar-a-Lago in 1999, she was trafficked to have sex with Andrew three times between 2001 and 2002 despite being just 17 years old. Andrew denied meeting her in his BBC interview, though they appear in a photograph taken at Maxwell’s home.
As the fallout from his Epstein connections, allegations of sexual misconduct and troubling interview mounts, Andrew has been pulled from public royal duties and patronages for the time-being, while various institutions and charitable partners have cut ties with him. On a more personal note, his office has been moved out of Buckingham Palace, and there are reports that the queen has vetoed plans for a 60th birthday party in his honor next February.
Prince Andrew has weathered similar criticism in the past, losing his role as a trade envoy in 2011 and being named in a civil suit filed by Giuffre in 2015.
A palace spokeswoman told Yahoo News U.K.that the royal would be back in action for two major events next year: the queen’s Trooping the Colour birthday celebration in June, and Remembrance Sunday next November.
“The Duke of York remains a member of the royal family,” the spokeswoman said. “As a royal colonel and a war veteran he will take part in these ceremonies.”
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