Prince Andrew needs better crisis P.R. management, or smarter friends whispering excuses for him to the British media.
That’s because these friends have once again attempted to downplay his controversial friendship with the now-deceased pedophile trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
After the so-called “chubby fingers” defense didn’t work, Andrew’s friends have now gone to the Sunday Times to offer up a rationalization for his infamous visit to Epstein’s New York City townhouse in December 2010. But their head-scratching defense defies the logic of the known record of the situation, making it look more and more that Andrew’s chief accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, is right — that the queen’s second son has more he needs to “come clean” about.
These friends have told the Sunday Times that the Duke of York only traveled to New York City to end his friendship with the disgraced financier. The friends are coming forward with this explanation, nine years after the visit took place.
“The duke has been hammered for one mistake, which took place in 2010,” a senior source close to Andrew told the Sunday Times. “He has apologized again and again for the error of judgment. But what he did wasn’t criminal. It was a mistake. He went to see a friend to tell them he couldn’t be their friend any more.”
A decade after he was photographed with Epstein in central park, Prince Andrew just now recalls that the meeting was to break off his friendship with the sex offender https://t.co/o4lTvSVRsf
— kadhim (??^)? (@kadhimshubber) October 6, 2019
The 59-year-old royal has faced several months of intense media scrutiny and criticism over his friendship with Epstein, who died by suicide in a New York City York jail where he was awaiting new sex trafficking charges.
Most problematic for Andrew is that Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged “sex slaves,” has claimed in a lawsuit and in interviews that she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times in 2001 when she was 17.
In a recent interview with NBC’s “Dateline,” the Sacramento-born Guiffre, now 35, said about Andrew: “He was an abuser. He was a participant.”
Andrew has repeatedly denied having sex with Giuffre or of knowing about Epstein’s alleged trafficking of underaged girls. In their conversations with the Sunday Times, Andrew’s friends described Epstein an “undercover” pedophile who kept his illegal activities hidden from the duke in order to keep him as a “trophy friend.”
“If you have someone like the duke, you probably don’t show that side of yourself to him,” the friend told the Sunday Times. “That’s the sadness of being someone like the duke, you sometimes don’t see the real person because you are a bit of a trophy friend.”
But Andrew’s 2010 visit to Epstein occurred several months after the financier had finished a 13-month jail sentence for child prostitution charges. Epstein also was first investigated for sex trafficking in the mid-2000s.
Andrew’s friends insisted that he crossed the Atlantic Ocean because he wanted to end the friendship in person. The intended takeaway of this explanation is that the trip was “a last hurrah, or a way to prove that (Andrew) still has manners,” Vanity Fair writer Erin Vanderhoof said.
Andrew’s friends want people to believe the duke “is just not the kind of person who ghosts you when he wants to break up with you, OK?” added Elaine Lui, writing for her website LaineyGossip.com. “He’ll do it in person — that’s how righteous he is, an upstanding dude …”
But Lui called this rationalization “hapless” and “straight up idiotic.”
For one thing, if Andrew wanted to deliver this “breakup” message to Epstein, multiple news reports show that he certainly dragged things out for nearly a week. He did so while evidently enjoying the multimillionaire financier’s lavish hospitality.
“It appears to have been a raucous farewell,” the Sunday Times said.
Epstein organized an intimate dinner to honor Andrew that included celebrity guests like Woody Allen, Katie Couric, Charlie Rose, Chelsea Handler and George Stephanopoulos. During the visit, Andrew also was photographed waving to a young woman as she left the townhouse, and the two men were photographed taking a walk in Central Park.
Moreover, New York literary agent John Brockman reportedly said he stopped by Epstein’s townhouse during Andrew’s visit and witnessed the duke, with Epstein, receiving foot massages from two well-dressed young Russian women.
During the massages, the duke complained about Swedish prosecutors filing sexual assault charges against Julian Assange and lamented that his fame and position in the British royal family made it difficult for him to enjoy a night life, according to Brockman.
“If I do it, I’m in big trouble,” Andrew said, according an email Brockman sent to a client, which was excerpted in the New Republic.
Vanity Fair’s Vanderhoof wrote that the friends’ explanation for the New York trip is the latest “post hoc rationalization for the more incriminating aspects of the prince’s relationship with Epstein.”
In August, friends went to the tabloids to speculate that a 2001 photo of Andrew with Giuffre, the night they purportedly had sex, must have been Photoshopped because they don’t feature the duke’s distinctive chubby fingers.
A “longterm pal” friend of Andrew’s also thought it would be useful to acknowledge to The Sun that “sex is a big thing” for Andrew and that the duke has had “more than 1,000 lovers” over the course of his lifetime. The friend also used this admission to insist that Andrew is “not into young girls.”
It’s troublesome, Vanderhoof pointed out, that Andrew never publicly criticized Epstein or his alleged illegal behavior until after the financier’s death.
In addition, no one said anything about Andrew ending his friendship with Epstein earlier — especially in early 2011, after the photo of Andrew and Epstein walking together in Central Park was published in the New York Post.
After the Central Park photo ignited furor in the U.K. press and criticism in the House of Commons, Andrew gave up his beloved job as the U.K.’s trade envoy. At the time, Andrew only said he was leaving the job because it had “served its purpose.”
A friend told Vanity Fair for a special report in 2011 that Andrew refused to end his friendship with Epstein.
“After Jeffrey was convicted, I phoned Andrew and told him, ‘You cannot have a relationship with Jeffrey. You can’t do these things,’” the friend told Vanity Fair. “And he said, ‘Stop giving me a hard time. You’re such a puritan.’”
The friend said they argued about Epstein for a bit and finally Andrew said, “Leave me alone. Jeffrey’s my friend. Being loyal to your friends is a virtue. And I’m going to be loyal to him.”
The Vanity Fair report also quoted a Buckingham Palace spokesman in 2011 who acknowledged that Andrew was loyal to his longtime friend but realizes that his December 2010 visit was “unwise.”
But another royal source refused to tell Vanity Fair whether Andrew had ended the friendship or cut off contact with Epstein. The source, “choosing his words with care,” would only say, “Don’t expect to see a photo of the two of them together,” and “Hereinafter we won’t see a photo.”
The Sunday Times story came after Andrew endured reports about how his visit to Australia last week invited little media coverage, no fanfare and attracted just one fan to turn up at one of his events.
At an event at Murdoch University in Perth, the media was kept roped off from the courtyard where Andrew arrived, Australian news reports said. Most others in the courtyard failed to notice that a member of the royal family was in their midst.
School teacher Renae Grljusich-Poolman, the one diehard fan who greeted Andrew, said the turnout was “disappointing.” But she agreed that concerns about his friendship Epstein had “marred his credibility,” the Australian reported.
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