Prince Andrew was due to return to Britain on Sunday night as allegations that he had sexual relations with a teenage girl continued to swirl and Buckingham Palace issued a second denial of the claims.
The Queen’s second son was returning from a skiing trip in Switzerland after the emergence of further details about the allegations by a woman who claims she was used as a “sex slave” by one of his friends. The claim was denied robustly by royal aides.
The denial went further than a more limited statement issued by Buckingham Palace on Friday, following the naming of the Prince’s accuser as Virginia Roberts, who has three children and recently returned to the United States after living in Australia.
In its second statement, the Palace said it “emphatically denied” that the Duke of York “had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts”. It added: “The allegations are false and without any foundation.”
The claims from Ms Roberts are part of a lawsuit before the American courts arising from the 2008 conviction on an underage sex charge of the multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is a former friend of the Duke.
Two Sunday newspapers published further details of the claimed meetings between Ms Roberts and Andrew, who is fifth in line to the throne. The fightback by royal aides is viewed as a recognition of the potential of the claims against the Prince, who is not a party to the US case and thus has no automatic right to respond, to damage both him and the Royal Family.
Prince Andrew: Life in pictures
Prince Andrew: Life in pictures
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Prince Andrew, Duke of York arrives at the Royal Albert Hall on 8 November 2014 in London
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Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (L) speaks to Queen Elizabeth II on the Queens stand during Derby day at the Epsom Derby Festival, in Surrey on 1 June 2013
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Prince Andrew with his daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice on the Balcony at Buckingham Palace, 2013
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Princess Beatrice (C) poses for photograph with her parents, Britain's Prince Andrew, the Duke York (L) and Sarah Ferguson following her graduation ceremony at Goldsmiths College, in London, 2011
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Prince Andrew’s ‘pointless plunge’ down the Shard was the moment to take stock of his usefulness
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Prince Andrew is the first royal to take and tweet a selfie
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Prince Andrew with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Al-Khalifa at Royal Ascot in 2010
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Prince Andrew with Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan in 2009
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Prince Andrew with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the first day of his state visit to London
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Duke of York in his uniform
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Britain's Prince Andrew speaks to the press during a meeting with Turkish Businessmen at Ciragan Palace in Istanbul on 26 May 2004
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Wearing a traditional Guatemalan ceremonial jacket, Britains Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, turns on the tap innaugurating an irrigation system sponsored by the European community on 7 March 2002 in Nevaj, Guatemala
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The newly wed Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and his wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, wave to crowds on 23 July 1986 from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London while Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Mother look on
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Prince Andrew and Prince Edward with their governess, Lavinia Keppel, at the Children's Book Show in Westminster, London on 7 November 1969
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Prince Andrew (bottom left) with his parents Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and siblings, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and little Prince Edward at Windsor Castle, 1965
In documents laid before a Florida court, Ms Roberts alleges that she slept with the Prince on three occasions – in London, New York and during an “orgy” on a private Caribbean island owned by Mr Epstein – between 1999 and 2002. The lawsuit arises from claims that a non-prosecution agreement secured on Mr Epstein’s behalf by his lawyers, which saw more serious potential federal charges against him dropped, was struck after the financier used his “social and political connections” to secure a more lenient plea bargain.Reuse content