BUCKINGHAM Palace has stepped up efforts to defend Prince Andrew after the British royal was embroiled in claims of sexual impropriety with an underage woman.
In a second statement since the claims surfaced, officials yesterday “emphatically denied” allegations that Prince Andrew slept with a young masseuse who is at the centre of a US court case in which she claims she was a “sex slave” to disgraced billionaire banker Jeffrey Epstein.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, carried out a year ago but published this weekend, Virginia Roberts claims she was forced by Epstein to have sexual relations with the Duke of York after meeting him three times from when she was 17 years old – in London, New York and in the Caribbean.
The prince was yesterday believed to be flying back to Britain from a holiday in Switzerland to speak to the Queen over the scandal.
Ms Roberts, who is now 30 and a mother of three, insists she was approached by a friend of Epstein in a country club owned by US tycoon Donald Trump where she was working as a changing room assistant. After saying she wanted to train in massage, she was introduced to Epstein and began working for him as a “travelling masseuse”.
While working for him, she says she was introduced to Prince Andrew on a number of occasions, while she regarded now-convicted paedophile Epstein almost as family.
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“But it was a sick family,” she said in the interview. “I was a paedophile’s top girl, being trained up for a British prince. He trained me to do whatever a man wanted. I was worried, but I would do anything to keep Jeffrey happy and keep my place as his No 1 girl.”
In 2001, she says she was taken to London and taken shopping by Epstein’s friend before meeting Prince Andrew in a townhouse. “She said I needed to be ‘smiley’ and bubbly and very happy to be around him and give a lot of energy to him because he was the Queen’s son,” Ms Roberts said.
“We went on to [club] Tramp. We were led into a VIP area and Andrew got me a cocktail from the bar then he asked me to dance. He was the most hideous dancer I had ever seen.
“He was grabbing my hips and he was pouring with perspiration and he had this cheesy smile. I was used to being used for sex by men but it was not behaviour that I was used to in public, and not from a prince who had daughters. I felt everyone was watching us.”
She claims she was paid about £10,000 by Epstein as a reward for sleeping with the prince and other sexual services. However, there is no claim that Prince Andrew knew she was being paid.
Her second encounter with Andrew came, she claimed, around Easter 2001, at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. Her third meeting with the prince came, she claims, on Epstein’s Caribbean island, where she says she entertained him with an “orgy”, after being flown there with a group of seven Russian girls.
A year later, on her 19th birthday, she says she was given a present of a ticket to Thailand where she was due to train in Thai massage techniques and return to Epstein. However, she says that she met a man there, subsequently married him, and never went back.
Buckingham Palace yesterday insisted that the claims were untrue.
“It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation,” a statement said.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge relating to soliciting paid sex with a minor and served 13 months of an 18-month sentence. He is now a registered sex offender.
Lawyers representing four of the women abused by Epstein have lodged papers in Florida over how prosecutors handled the case. The documents include the allegations against Prince Andrew.
US lawyer Alan Dershowitz has also been accused in the papers – claims which he has fiercely denied, saying he is planning legal action against the complainant.
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