Who is Britain's Prince Andrew, the royal linked to the Jeffrey Epstein case?

By Haley Ott

/ CBS News

Epstein accuser sues Ghislaine Maxwell

London — In court documents unsealed Friday in relation to the Jeffrey Epstein case, Britain's Prince Andrew is alleged to have had "sexual relations" in three locations with Virginia Giuffre, then Virginia Roberts, who said she was "trafficked" by Epstein and his associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, when she was underage. A photo included in the documents is purported to show Andrew with his arm around a bare-waisted, 17-year-old Giuffre in London in 2001.

The documents, from a defamation suit brought by Giuffre against Maxwell, also include testimony from a woman named Johanna Sjoberg, who alleges that Prince Andrew groped her breast in Epstein's home in 2001, when she was 21 years old.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace told CBS News that "this relates to proceedings in the United States, to which The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) is not a party. Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue."

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"It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts," the statement continued. "Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

London's Metropolitan Police told CBS News on Wednesday that there is no current investigation into allegations against Prince Andrew, as they have not received a formal crime report. They said they are currently not supporting any other agency in the U.S. or elsewhere in relation to the allegations.

But scandals surrounding the royal's friendship with Epstein have long made headlines.

Britain's Prince Andrew is seen in a file photo with Virginia Giuffre (center) and Ghislaine Maxwell. Rex Features

The photo showing a smiling, middle-aged Prince Andrew with his arm around then 17-year-old Giuffre first surfaced in 2015, along with serious allegations of sexual misconduct. Prince Andrew denied the allegations at the time, and Buckingham Palace issued a similar statement of denial.

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is the third of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's four children. He was second in line to the British throne when he was born in 1960. Now he is eighth in the order of succession.

He was married to Sarah Ferguson, known as Fergie, in 1986, and the pair divorced in 1996. They have two children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Currently single, he often accompanies the queen to events when her husband, Prince Phillip, is unable to attend.

Prince Andrew and Epstein were reportedly introduced in the late 1990s, after which they are said to have socialized together a number of times. Epstein was reportedly invited to events at Windsor Castle and the royal Sandringham Estate. In 2011, Ferguson told Britain's Evening Standard Newspaper that she regretted accepting a loan of about $18,000 from Epstein to pay off a debt. She called it a "gigantic error of judgement."

In 2011, another photo was published which showed Andrew and Epstein — who was then a registered sex offender — walking together in New York's Central Park. The picture, and questions that it raised about the duke's judgement, contributed to his stepping down from his role as the British government's special representative for international investment and trade a few months later. He had traveled extensively — and expensively — in that unpaid role, earning the nickname "Airmiles Andy."

Some British politicians have called for a separate investigation into Prince Andrew's ties to Epstein.

"We are talking about the trafficking of children," one member of the British Parliament, Jess Phillips, told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper. "Authorities should learn from the past in ignoring such allegations."

On Monday, France's gender and equality minister, Marlene Schiappa, called for an investigation into Epstein's activities in her country.

"The American investigation has highlighted ties with France. It therefore seems fundamental to us, and for the victims, that an investigation should be opened in France so that all the light is shed on this matter," she said in a statement.

Epstein was facing charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking with underage females when he died Saturday from an apparent suicide in his New York prison cell, according to federal officials. He had pleaded not guilty to all counts.

An attorney representing more than a dozen women who have accused Epstein of sexual abuse, Brad Edwards, said he would "continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice."

First published on August 14, 2019 / 11:08 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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