Prince Andrew made a public statement on Sunday following the release of a 2010 video showing him at financier Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion, saying he was “appalled” by the recent accusations of sexual abuse lobbed at his former friend.
Epstein, 66, died by apparent suicide last week while he was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan as he awaited trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carried a jail sentence of up to 45 years.
The connections between Epstein and Prince Andrew have resurfaced in recent weeks, after unsealed documents, made public this month, allege that the British royal made sexual advances on young women recruited for him by Epstein’s former girlfriend and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
The two women named in the incident, Johanna Sjoberg and Virginia Roberts Giuffre, previouslyalleged to have been recruited by Epstein’s associates to perform massages that quickly devolved into sexual abuse, Giuffre at age 15 .
Prince Andrew said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace Sunday that allegations that he was involved in any “exploitation” are “abhorrent.”
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” thestatement said.
“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”
Though Buckingham Palace has never denied a friendship between the disgraced financier and the prince, the royal family has repeatedly denied sexual relations between Prince Andrew and Giuffre or other underage women.
Epstein and Prince Andrew reportedly formed a close friendship through the late ’90s and early 2000s after being introduced by Maxwell. The prince stepped down from his 10-year role as the special UK representative for trade in 2011 following criticism over his close friendship with the registered sex offender Epstein.
The royal statement follows a video released by the Daily Mail on Sunday reportedly taken outside Epstein’s Manhattan home in December 2010, which shows the Duke briefly peering out and waving from behind the mansion’s front door.
According to the Daily Mail, the footage was taken less than an hour after Epstein left the house with a young blonde woman. The duke was also photographed strolling alongside Epstein in Central Park in 2010.
Shortly after legal documents related to the sex-trafficking charges against Epstein which laid out allegations by Sjoberg and Giuffre were published last week, the Queen was photographed sitting next to her son as they were driven to Crathie Kirk church in Scotland near Her Majesty’s holiday home.
Buckingham Palace also issued a statement to CBS News last week , saying that “any suggestion [against Prince Andrew] of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”