British royal Prince Andrew, the younger son of Queen Elizabeth II, is facing renewed scrutiny over allegations of having sex with a minor, and for his ties with the American hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in August while pending trial.
While the allegations were first made in 2015, Andrew has become the centre of focus after a widely criticised interview with the BBC that aired on Saturday and went viral.
What is the Jeffrey Epstein scandal?
Jeffrey Epstein was a successful financier, who was accused by the US Justice Department of running a racket in which girls as young as 14 were lured to his residences, where he would abuse them.
Epstein allegedly made the girls give him nude and semi-nude massages, and engage in sexual acts with him.
His close circle is known to have included President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew.
In 2008, federal prosecutors signed a controversial non-prosecution agreement with Epstein, due to which he received a light sentence of 18 months, which too, was curtailed by 5 months.
The agreement was signed without the knowledge of Epstein’s victims, and a court in February 2019 ruled that the non-disclosure by prosecutors violated federal law.
The case was reopened in the same month following outcry during the #MeToo movement.
In July 2019, the 66-year-old Epstein was arrested on multiple charges including sex trafficking. He committed suicide in his prison cell in August while awaiting trial.
Although his death effectively concluded the criminal trial, the alleged victims have called for investigations against co-perpetrators to continue.
Where does Prince Andrew come in?
Prince Andrew, who holds the title of Duke of York, is the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. According to the Royal Family website, he was the first child born to a reigning monarch in 103 years.
As is the tradition, Andrew had a military career, serving with the Royal Navy for 22 years.
In 2001, Andrew became the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, a position from which he had to step down in 2011 after being criticised over his ties with Jeffrey Epstein, as well as other controversial figures.
In 2015, an American woman named Virginia Giuffre alleged that she was trafficked to Prince Andrew when she was 17 by Epstein, who was holding her as a sex slave. Giuffre (who was earlier Roberts) claimed that she had sex with Andrew on three occasions in 2001, claims that Andrew has denied.
Last week, Andrew gave an interview to the BBC, in which he was asked about the allegations, as well as his friendship with Epstein.
After being aired on Saturday, the interview invited a barrage of criticism for Andrew, who many viewers said failed to show regret for the victims. Andrew is now being pressed to speak under oath to the FBI, who are investigating the Epstein case in the US.
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