Prince Andrew returned to his work in the UK today as he tried to ride the storm over his friendship with the disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York has been on a golf retreat in Spain for the past two weeks – during which time the alleged victims of Epstein appeared in the US, someone urging him to come clean & # 39; clean & # 39; about his past.
Andrew faces repeated allegations that he has had sex three times with a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, who is now a 36-year-old married mother of three, named Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
He strongly denies the allegations of & # 39; impropriety with minors & # 39; and calls them & # 39; categorically false & # 39; and his friends have suggested that he is the victim of & # 39; witch hunt & # 39 ;.
Today Andrew returned to official royal duties and oversaw the celebrations in the Dartmouth Royal Regatta in Devon, of which he is a patron.
Prince Andrew looked cheerful when he returned to official royal duties at the Royal Dartmouth Regatta in Devon
He appeared his first public appearance since Jeffrey Epstein's accusers appeared in court, with one focused on the duke
Andrew is patron of the Royal Dartmouth Regatta, which takes place every year in the city of South Devon
His appearance came when an amazing photo of him appeared with Donald and Melania Trump and Epstein at an event in Mr Trump's Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago in 2000 in Florida.
The photo also shows Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of helping Epstein buy underage girls for sex.
Virginia Roberts, who was currently working as an & # 39; assistant girl & # 39; swimming pool assistant, claimed that Maxwell recruited her a few months later to become a sex slave for Epstein.
Maxwell denies involvement in the Epstein crimes and her whereabouts are currently unknown.
Andrew returned from Spain on Wednesday after a two-week golf resort in Sotogrande with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson when the scandal with Epstein was exacerbated.
A royal source told The sun: & # 39; Andrew and Fergie flew back together on Wednesday. He knows he has to come back and face the music.
& # 39; The optics did not look good, with so many stories about the accusers of Epstein while on a sunny golf course in Spain.
& # 39; He has a series of conversations with advisors this week about how to save his reputation in the future. Fergie remains fully committed to him. & # 39;
Donald and Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein (in the background) and Ghislaine Maxwell are shown together in Mr. Trump's resort in Mar-A-Lago in February 2000
Mr Trump and Melania pose with Prince Andrew at the same event. Andrew was Epstein & # 39; s guest in Mar-a-Lago, and has been increasingly examined as a result of the allegations against Epstein
Donald Trump is pictured with his then girlfriend Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 12, 2000
The Duke of York remained unobtrusive in the luxurious development of Sotogrande and played golf in Valderrama, where he was pictured last Thursday
Epstein, who was confronted with federal indictment for sex trafficking, died behind bars earlier this month in what the coroner ruled suicide.
But his death, instead of drawing a line among questions surrounding his friendship with & # 39; s worlds and celebrities, has increased control over the extent of his contact with Prince Andrew and Donald Trump.
Epstein & # 39; s visits to Mar-a-Lago in the 1990s and early 2000s are well documented, but at some point, long before Mr. Trump became president, the couple dropped out and were banned from the resort.
Mr. Trump said last month: & # 39; Yes, he and I had a fight a long time ago. Frankly, the reason makes no difference.
& # 39; But I probably haven't talked to him for 15 years or more. I was not a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein, I can tell you that. & # 39;
Miss Roberts said through her lawyer that Mr. Trump has never had sex with her or with other underage girls she knows.
But the now 36-year-old prosecutor has said that Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was just 17 years old.
Her allegations, which Andrew denies, were removed from the US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said she & # 39; intangible and impudent & # 39; goods.
Buckingham Palace has the allegations & # 39; false and without any grounds & # 39; and said & # 39; any suggestion of impropriety with minors & # 39; by the duke, & # 39; was categorically not true & # 39 ;.
Virginia Roberts was photographed in early 2001 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell
It was revealed yesterday that lawyers for the victims of Epstein were considering launching a lawsuit to put pressure on Andrew in the long-running scandal.
David Boies, chairman of a high-profile New York law firm, said the prince & # 39; continued to slow down and cover up & # 39; because of repeated claims that he had sex with one of Epstein's ten victims.
Boies urged Andrew to agree to an informal interview, as this would be the best way for him to promote & # 39; his interests & # 39; if he & # 39; really has nothing to hide & # 39 ;.
The lawyer said he has asked to interview the prince and is prepared to travel to London to make the process more comfortable for him.
But if this does not happen, Mr. Boies said he would consider bringing a lawsuit to pressure him and other Epstein employees to testify under oath.
Virginia Roberts (center, in blue) arrives Tuesday with a lawyer David Boies at a court in Manhattan, New York. She prosecuted Epstein in 2015 and claimed that she was being held as his sex slave
If Andrew ever set foot in the US again, he could be ambushed with a writ of summons. This would oblige him to testify on oath or to go to prison.
& # 39; One of the options is to file a lawsuit, & # 39; said Boies. & # 39; I think that we and other US counselors are investigating the options and options. I hope we don't have to take that road, but we want to consider it. & # 39;
Boies represents a number of women who say they were abused by Epstein when they were teenagers.
One is Miss Roberts, who claims that she had sex with Andrew three times when she was 17 years old.
She is now a 36-year-old married mother of three named Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
Miss Roberts is one of the 16 women who told a Manhattan court on Tuesday about their alleged abuse by Epstein and his friends.
The friendship between Prince Andrew (left) and Jeffrey Epstein (right) goes back to at least 1999. They are depicted as they walked together through Central Park in New York in December 2010
The prince has strongly denied that he & # 39; any form of sexual contact or relationship & # 39; has been with Miss Roberts and has tried to downplay his friendship with Epstein, who is suspected of having killed himself in prison earlier this month at the age of 66.
However, he has failed to answer constant questions about his behavior, in particular his frequent visits to the many homes of Epstein in the US.
& # 39; If he would sit down and let everything come out, and just come clean, this is the time to do it, & # 39; Boies told Sky News.
& # 39; I keep slowing and covering up, I don't think this is really in his interest, because it won't go away.
& # 39; It is very difficult to take the position that you were close and friendly (with Epstein) and that you considered the mansion as your home away from home, but you were totally unaware of what was going on was. & # 39;
Boies said there must be & # 39; an explanation & # 39; why Andrew attended so many of Epstein & # 39; s parties and why he was widely photographed with his arm around Miss Roberts' bare midriff in 2001.
Friends of the duke have insisted that his lawyers & # 39; have serious doubts & # 39; about the truthfulness of the photo – and say he is in the middle of a & # 39; witch hunt & # 39; state.
But Sigrid McCawley, who also represents Miss Roberts, said: “The FBI has never questioned authenticity. Jeffrey Epstein's flight logs also place Virginia in London when the photo was taken.
& # 39; The denials of Prince Andrew with the help of misinformed friends and unnamed sources who have no real knowledge of the facts are getting louder.
& # 39; But that atmosphere doesn't change the evidence and the facts. The denials with bumper stickers that Prince Andrew uses will not help him if all the evidence is available. & # 39;
Epstein, depicted in a prison mugshot in 2017
Buckingham Palace employees this week told Mail that the duke would be willing to help authorities if he was approached.
A courtier said: & # 39; Members of the royal family would always cooperate with the police in an appropriate manner. & # 39;
However, this does not mean that he would be willing to be interviewed by lawyers for the victims of Epstein.
Last week it appeared that the Metropolitan Police had decided not to investigate claims that were first claimed in 2015 that the prince was having sex with Miss Roberts.
But the FBI is investigating both the claims against Epstein and the circumstances surrounding his death.
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