Published On: Fri, Aug 30th, 2019

Prince Andrew returns to royal duties amid crisis talks | Royal | News

The Duke of York has spent the day at the Royal Dartmouth Regatta in Devon, following a holiday to Spain with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. Andrew, 59, has come under-fire for his relationship with Epstein, who was found dead on August 10 in his prison cell in New York, where he was being held on sex trafficking charges. Since Epstein’s death, there have been a number of reports about his relationship with the Duke, including past allegations the pair travelled together on the financier’s private jet with teenager Virginia Roberts, now known as Mrs Giuffre.

Mrs Giuffre previously said in court papers filed in Florida she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17-years-old in London, at Epstein’s home and the late financier’s private island in the Caribbean.

Her allegations, which Andrew strongly denies, were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were “immaterial and impertinent”.

Buckingham Palace has branded the allegations “false and without any foundation” and “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the Duke was “categorically untrue”.

Epstein was due to face a New York court on sex trafficking charges when he killed himself in jail on August 10, however, a judge made an unusual step by allowing his alleged victims, including Mrs Giuffre, to give their testimonies on Tuesday.

A royal insider has claimed Andrew is “having a series of talks with advisers”.

A royal source told The Sun: “Andrew and Fergie flew back together on Wednesday. He knows he has to come back and face the music.

“The optics were not a good look, with so many stories about the Epstein accusers while he was on a sunny golf course in Spain.

“He’s having a series of talks with advisers this week about how to salvage his reputation going forward.

“Fergie remains entirely committed to him and is proud to stand by her man at one of his darkest hours.”

Epstein was arrested on July 6 when he arrived at a New Jersey airport on a private jet from Paris.

He had pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges and his lawyers were preparing to submit written arguments next month to support claims that charges were negated by a deal Epstein reached with federal prosecutors more than 10 years ago.

They agreed not to bring charges as he pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution-related charges in Florida, where he served 13 months in jail.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew shock: Fergie only spent ’40 nights a year’ with Andrew

He added: “His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle.

“I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”

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