Prince Andrew (pictured on Spain's Real Club Valderrama course last week) said he had never suspected the shamed financier Jeffrey Epstein of criminal behavior
The Duke of York spent nearly a week in the infamous New York home of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who unveils The Mail on Sunday.
The revelation came when Prince Andrew made an extraordinary statement yesterday in which he tried to downplay his ten-year friendship with Epstein.
In his statement – the second issued since last weekend when The Mail unveiled images of the Queen's favorite son at the Epstein mansion in Manhattan on Sunday – the Duke said he had never suspected the embarrassed financier of criminal behavior.
He also insisted that he and Epstein, who committed suicide two weeks ago in a New York prison cell, only rarely & probably not more than just once or twice a year & # 39; saw.
The Mail on Sunday, however, understands that the duke spent six days with Epstein in 2010, two years after the multi-millionaire businessman was convicted of having sex with a child.
Our exclusive video, which made headlines around the world after the release, showed the Prince in the doorway of the mansion on December 6, 2010, waving with a brunette.
It first led to a statement from Buckingham Palace and yesterday another from the duke himself in which he desperately tried to draw a line under the affair. The duke admitted that he and Epstein might have been able to meet twenty times, but that at no time during the limited time I spent with him did I see, see, or suspect such behavior that led to his arrest and conviction & # 39 ;.
Epstein also gave a party at his home on December 2, 2010 for the duke, who was last seen in the building five days later. Last night Buckingham Palace refused to discuss the details of his visit.
However, some commentators said that the statement was far from being a cover for the scandal, actually raising more questions than it answered. Others said it didn't go far enough.
The Mail on Sunday understands that the duke was staying with Epstein for a six-day period in 2010, two years after the multi-millionaire businessman was convicted of having sex with a child
Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said: "Although he deplores the behavior of Epstein, I don't think anyone will believe that he is completely ignorant of what was going on. I can't believe that.
& # 39; Prince Andrew should present himself for an interview by the authorities in America instead of making carefully worded statements. & # 39;
It is understood that the queen was "aware" of her second son's statement, but her advisors were not involved in drafting it.
"The duke insisted on writing it himself," said a source.
The prince is currently on holiday in Spain with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who, according to one source, made his decision to come clean & # 39; fully supported.
Since Epstein was arrested last month on charges of sex trafficking, the duke has tried to distance himself from his old friend and declared himself "appalled" by his "alleged crimes." In yesterday's statement, he said he "wanted to clarify the facts" about his "association or friendship" with the financier.
He said it was a & # 39; error & # 39; was to meet Epstein after leaving prison in 2010. & # 39; I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew about him was apparently not the real person, given what we know now. & # 39;
The duke admitted that he was staying in "a number of (Epstein & # 39; s) homes," but did not specify which. Buckingham Palace also refused to work out. Epstein owned properties in New York, New Mexico, Paris, Florida and the Virgin Islands.
The duke said the suicide of his friend had left "many unanswered questions" and added that he had "huge sympathy" for all those affected by the pedophile's behavior. "I acknowledge and sympathize with everyone who is affected and wants some form of closure."
Last night Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, suggested that Andrew's ex-wife had urged him to make a statement.
"Fergie has a big influence on him and tries very hard to help him," she said. "She is very loyal and protective and would have been there with him.
& # 39; I assume he decided that there was so much anti-aircraft on his way that only a personal statement would suffice.
"Of course, if it were a politician, he would have to resign immediately. But Andrew is not a politician – he is a member of the royal family and cannot resign, so he is limited to apologies. & # 39; Royal author Penny Junor said: & # 39; For him to hide and to say how shocked he was by the accusations it did not completely cover it.
"However, I find it hard to believe that if he stayed in one of these homes – albeit only once or twice a year – he had no idea about Jeffrey Epstein's behavior."
The duke and duchess stay in Spain, where he played golf last week. It is understood that they were also present at the 50th birthday party of Celine Charloux, a female polo champion, on her vast estate Finca La Capilla
A source said: "Sarah was very friendly and talked to everyone, even the staff. Andrew was sitting in the corner talking to friends and not talking to the workers like Sarah did. "Mrs. Charloux said the party had been" great, "but refused to discuss her royal guests.
After arriving at Malaga Airport with a private jet earlier this month, the Yorks would have stayed in a villa in an exclusive residential area of Sotogrande.
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