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UK News A timeline of Prince Andrew’s friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell as he denies they were ‘close’

16:32  27 january  2022
16:32  27 january  2022 Source:   inews.co.uk

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Prince Andrew has denied he was a “close friend” of convicted sex offender and former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who he has known since the early 1980s.

The claim came as part of his legal response to Virginia Giuffre, who is suing him in the United States for sexual assault, in which he also demanded a trial by jury.

But given public evidence suggests their friendship had endured for four decades, and Maxwell introduced Prince Andrew to convicted peadophile Jeffrey Epstein – whom he went on to become friends with – this point is likely to be contended in court.

Here we look at documented evidence and public claims about the Duke of York’s friendship with Maxwell.

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When did they meet?

During his notorious 2019 interview with BBC’s Newsnight, Prince Andrew said he had known Maxwell “since she was at university”.

Maxwell, the daughter of media magnate and former MP Robert Maxwell, graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1985. At the time, Andrew was serving in the Royal Navy.

How did their friendship develop?

Throughout the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, the pair were often pictured together in the press during outings in the US and the UK.

In 1999, Maxwell introduced the Duke of York to her then-boyfriend Epstein. Flight logs obtained by the Mirror show that in February of that year, Andrew flew with Maxwell on Epstein’s private jet to the financier’s private island Little St James and then on to Florida.

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By mid-1999, Andrew is alleged to have personally invited the couple to Balmoral, the Queen’s royal Scottish residence.

A young woman who said she attended as part of Epstein’s entourage told the Daily Mail the group stayed overnight at the castle and were entertained in the grounds the following day.

During Maxwell’s New York trial last year, a photo of her relaxing with Epstein at what appears to be Balmoral was shown to the jury.

In 2000, Epstein and Maxwell were invited by Prince Andrew to Windsor Castle and the Queen’s Norfolk retreat Sandringham where they took part in a shooting weekend.

In his Newsnight interview, Andrew insisted that Epstein was there as a “plus one”, adding “it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this”.

In June 2000, Andrew and Maxwell were pictured attending Royal Ascot together alongside Epstein. In September of that year, Andrew and Maxwell were photographed together at the wedding of his former girlfriend Aurelia Cecil in Wiltshire, while a month later they were both pictured at model Heidi Klum’s Halloween party in New York.

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The infamous photo showing Prince Andrew with Ms Giuffre and Maxwell was taken in March 2001 at what is understood to be Maxwell’s Belgravia home.

The legal documents filed by Andrew’s lawyers on Wednesday assert that they do not have enough information to admit or deny the photograph’s existence.

The Duke of York said in his Newsnight interview that he had visited Maxwell’s London house, but not on the night the photograph was allegedly taken.

What has been said about their friendship?

In a recent ITV documentary, the Duke of York’s former protection officer Paul Page claimed Maxwell had such free access to the palace during the early 2000s that his team assumed she and the prince were in “an intimate relationship”.

“From the way she was allowed to enter and exit the palace… we suspected that she may have had an intimate relationship with Prince Andrew,” claimed Mr Page.

“A colleague of mine remembered her coming in four times in one day from the morning till the evening – she kept coming in and out, in and out.”

Euan Rellie, an investment banker who attended lavish New York parties thrown by Epstein but is not accused of wrongdoing, was also featured in the documentary. He recalled attending a dinner party at Maxwell’s behest, thrown for Prince Andrew.

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“I got the sense that Prince Andrew and Ghislaine had probably been boyfriend and girlfriend in the past. They had an easy warmth around each other,” said Mr Rellie.

When were they last in contact?

Although, according to what has been publicly documented, the pair spent the most time together in the late 1990s and early 2000s, their association did not cease afterwards.

In the November 2019 Newsnight interview, Andrew told broadcaster Emily Maitlis that his last contact with Maxwell had been a few months earlier.

Asked when he last spoke to Maxwell, he replied: “It was earlier this year, funnily enough, in the summer, in the spring, summer”.

He later clarified that their contact had been before Epstein was arrested on charges for the sexual trafficking of minors in July that year and that they did not discuss Epstein, but “some rally” that Maxwell was doing in the UK.

“There wasn’t anything to discuss about him because he wasn’t in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on,” said Prince Andrew.

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This is interesting!