She has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. But the importance of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in unravelling the ‘truth’ about Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and her role in the whole sordid saga became even more apparent after last night’s interview.
Time and again, the Prince invoked his friendship with Maxwell, 57, daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, as the reason he came into paedophile Epstein’s orbit.
Asked when he last saw Maxwell, Andrew said his last contact was ‘earlier this year, funnily enough’, when she ‘was here doing some rally’.
The BBC’s Emily Maitlis said: ‘So even though he had by then been arrested and was facing charges of sex trafficking?’
Maxwell, who has been accused of being Epstein’s ‘madam’ – a charge she has denied – has not been seen in public since a photograph emerged of her sitting outside an In’N’Out Burger restaurant in Los Angeles in August
The Duke said no, clarifying that ‘this was early spring’, before Epstein’s arrest in July.
When asked if they discussed Epstein at all, Andrew said: ‘No, actually funnily enough no not at all, there wasn’t anything to discuss about him because he wasn’t in the news, you know, it was just…we had moved on.’
He added: ‘If there are questions that Ghislaine has to answer, that’s her problem I’m afraid, I’m not in a position to be able to comment one way or the other.’
Andrew also told Maitlis he went to visit Epstein in 2010 at his New York mansion to tell him it ‘was inappropriate for us to be seen together’ and cut off their relationship following his conviction.
He said his friendship with Maxwell began when she was at Oxford University – and it was she who introduced him to her then-boyfriend Epstein in 1999.
Maxwell fled to New York, some say virtually penniless, after the 1991 death of her father and friends say she widely credited Epstein with helping her cope with her ‘overwhelming’ grief.
The duke said he went to visit Epstein in 2010 at his New York mansion to tell him it ‘was inappropriate for us to be seen together’
But the relationship was more complicated. She used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener’s son, to society. In return, she used the financier’s millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons.
Andrew blamed Maxwell for bringing Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham in 2000. ‘Remember that it was his girlfriend (Maxwell) that was the key element in this,’ the Prince told Maitlis. ‘He was the… plus one.’
The Prince corrected previous reports that he threw a birthday party for Maxwell at Sandringham at which Epstein is believed to have met other members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles: ‘It was a shooting weekend,’ he said.
Of course, it was at Maxwell’s Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first ‘sex trafficked’ her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied.
Time and again, the Prince invoked his friendship with Maxwell, 57, daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, as the reason he came into paedophile Epstein’s orbit
Last night, a source said: ‘Ghislaine is the key to everything. She’s the Queen Bee around which everything unfolded. She’s pivotal to determining the truth.’
Maxwell, who has been accused of being Epstein’s ‘madam’ – a charge she has denied – has not been seen in public since a photograph emerged of her sitting outside an In’N’Out Burger restaurant in Los Angeles in August. Reports soon emerged those images may have been ‘faked’ by her lawyer to disguise her whereabouts.
The ex-socialite has not been seen since although rumours have placed her in Brazil, France, the American mid-West and even the UK. ‘No one knows where she is,’ a lawyer for one of Epstein’s victims said last night. ‘She’s done the greatest disappearing act known to man – or woman.’