opinion

While the world turned against Meghan and Harry, we missed the real story: Prince Andrew.

An ITV documentary on the Sussexs’ recent trip to Africa has been big news in the last week or so. Bulletins, articles and social media feeds have been bursting with clips, dissecting the most ‘revealing’ moments; from Prince Harry’s nod to the reported feud with Prince William and the fragile state of his own mental health, to Meghan’s pained expression as she talked about struggling with tabloid scrutiny.

For some, it was a touching display of vulnerability. For others, it was a blatantly engineered PR stunt, an exercise in self-pity.

But more than any of that, it was an unfortunate distraction.

While commentators were tripping over each other to accuse Meghan and Harry of snivelling about their privilege, another Royal-focused documentary aired, one that actually deserved their outrage.

Channel 4’s Dispatches: The Prince and the Paedophile investigated the long-running friendship between a member of the Royal family and a convicted child sex offender. Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein.

A shameful enough association, sure.

But the film echoed persistent allegations that it was far more sinister than that.

Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous association.

Epstein took his own life in New York jail cell in August, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The case followed the disgraced billionaire fianancier’s 2006 conviction for paying underage girls to perform sex acts on him.

This time around, the prosecution alleged that, over the course of several years, Epstein had recruited underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse at his homes in New York and Palm Beach, Florida. Had he been convicted, he would have faced 45 years behind bars.

During the investigation, scrutiny turned to Epstein’s collection of famous friends. Including Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

In 2015, of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, had came forward with allegations that the financier directed her to have sex with the royal on multiple occasions; the first of which happened when she was just 17.

Ghislaine Maxwell prince andrew
Prince Andrew photographed with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's most vocal accusers. Image: Twitter.
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Prince Andrew has denied the accusations.

"Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts [Giuffre]."

13 phone numbers and an island orgy: the documentary's claims about the Duke.

The Dispatches documentary, which aired in the UK this week, presented evidence of Prince Andrew's close ties to Epstein, including multiple visits he made to the billionaire's residences.

Among the claims presented was that Epstein had a contact book containing 13 direct phone numbers for the Duke; a claim uncovered by Mike Fisten, a private investigator and former Florida detective who worked on the case.

"And [these numbers went everywhere], Wood Farm, Sunninghill numbers, the palace, his home number, his home email," Fisten said. "He even had a phone number to his modem, I guess to call into his modem."

Listen: Mamamia OutLoud delves into the Epstein conspiracy theories...

The documentary also examined flight records, which appeared to show that Prince Andrew met with Epstein and his associates on at least 10 occasions over 12 years, including after Epstein had been arrested on underage prostitution charges.

It also re-examined 2015 court documents, which detailed Giuffre's accusations against the Duke. The documents, filed in a Florida court, related to Giuffre's attempt to join a suit against Epstein. Her application was denied and the judge ordered her allegations against Prince Andrew be struck from the public record.

Among them was her claim that Prince Andrew took part in group sex with her, Epstein and several other girls.

"The third time I had sex with Andy was in an orgy on Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands. I was around 18 at the time," she said in court documents, according to the documentary.

"Epstein, Andy, approximately eight other young girls and I had sex together.

"The other girls all seemed and appeared to be under the age of 18 and didn't really speak English. Epstein laughed about the fact they couldn't really communicate, saying that they are the 'easiest' girls to get along with."

Giuffre's allegations have not been tested in court, and Prince Andrew has never faced any charges relating to them. However, The Sunday Times recently reported that the FBI is planning to inverview Epstein's alleged trafficking victims for information on the Duke.

So, remind me again why all the focus is on Meghan and Harry?

For 24-hour mental health crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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