The relationship between Prince Andrew and the late disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein has been revealed in an explosive new Channel 4 documentary.
Dispatches: The Prince and the Paedophile thoroughly investigates the relationship between the two men, delving into the reasons why a member of the British royal family would choose to keep ties with a convicted sex offender. The documentary also looks closely at their connections and interviews those close to Epstein as well as exploring how the relationship came about.
Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell earlier this year while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges, and Prince Andrew stands accused of having sex with the then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers.
Reporter Cathy Newman explores Epstein’s British connections, which include Andrew and Robert Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislaine, as well as Peter Mandelson and Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.
The documentary elicited much reaction online in the UK after it aired last night. Some on Twitter are criticising the fact that there has been so little media coverage of Prince Andrew's friendship with Epstein, with more attention given to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s South African trip and interviews on ITV.
Others have pointed out the notable differences between the treatment of Meghan Markle and the criticism she receives compared to Prince Andrew.
These are seven things we learned from the documentary.
1. Jeffrey Epstein had 13 phone numbers for Prince Andrew, including a direct line to his computer’s modem.
In the documentary, private investigator Mike Fisten had been looking into Epstein’s alleged crimes as part of this case and discovered that Epstein had 13 telephone numbers on which to contact Prince Andrew. A telephone contact book was found in Epstein’s Palm Beach residency, which included a line for the royal at Buckingham Palace. Fisten said: "You could take for instance, if looking at the section in London, you could pick out, the Duke of York, which is Prince Andrew. And when you look at that, under Duke of York it shows Buckingham Palace, London.
"He has 13 phone numbers to contact the duke. And [these numbers went everywhere], Wood Farm, Sunninghill numbers, the palace, his home number, his home email. He even had a phone number to his modem, I guess to call into his modem."
2. Sarah Ferguson had also been friends with Jeffrey Epstein, for at least seven years.
Channel 4’s analysis of Epstein’s telephone records found that the Duchess of York and Epstein’s friendship had continued for at least seven years. A telephone note, dated 25th January 2005, was a message from "HRH Duchess of York Sarah (Fergie)" which said: "She is expecting your call."
3. Jeffrey Epstein was close enough to Prince Andrew to receive an invitation to the queen’s ‘Dance of the Decades’ at Windsor Castle.
In June 2000, Epstein was invited to the queen’s ‘Dance of the Decades’ party at Windsor Castle. According to Daily Mail royal correspondent, Richard Kay: "The queen hosted one of the grandest parties she’d had at all during her reign at Windsor Castle. They called it the 'Dance of the Decades' and it was to mark the centenary of the queen mother and I think William’s 18th, and Andrew, of course, had been 40 that year, too. So he was implicitly involved in all this and he invited Ghislaine Maxwell and a man called Jeffrey Epstein."
4. Prince Andrew would stay with Epstein on 10 occasions over 12 years, sometimes spending days on end with him.
Channel 4 examined the flight logs for one of Epstein’s private jets and found that on 16th April 1998, Jeffrey Epstein met "Princess Sarah Ferguson and kids" on the ground in Nassau in the Bahamas. In February 1999, "Prince Andrew himself appears for the first time, flying into the Virgin Islands, a few days later, he flies out again with JE, Jeffrey Epstein, GM Ghislaine Maxwell and a number of other people."
5. Prince Andrew’s reputation had already been called into question.
According to the documentary, Prince Andrew was once praised for his public service in the Falklands War. However, he was also known as "Randy Andy, the Playboy Prince" because he had a series of high-profile girlfriends and was mocked on the satirical programme Spitting Image as the "prince who can’t say no".
6. Prince Andrew continued his friendship with Epstein even after he was arrested for alleged sex offences.
Prince Andrew flew from Luton to Edinburgh with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's closest associate, even after Epstein was arrested for sex offences.
"This is a flight log for Epstein’s jet for the 1st September 2006. Epstein himself isn’t present, but Prince Andrew flies from Luton to Edinburgh with Ghislaine Maxwell and a couple of other friends. Epstein had been arrested six weeks previously on charges of soliciting prostitution."
7. Prince Andrew allegedly had an orgy with Jeffrey Epstein and nine girls.
The documentary re-examined the court papers which claim Epstein and Andrew had an orgy with Epstein accuser, Virginia Giuffre and eight other girls. In evidence to a Florida court four years ago, Mrs 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. Epstein laughed about the fact they couldn't really communicate, saying that they are the 'easiest' girls to get along with."
The documentary also claimed that medical records from New York Presbyterian Hospital show that Mrs Giuffre was admitted on 9th July 2001 after three weeks of vaginal bleeding.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement about Prince Andrew: "Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.
"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts [Giuffre]."