Prince Andrew has been on lockdown for three years since his disastrous Newsnight interview, when insiders revealed the disgraced Duke of York watched set-top boxes, hardly ever left the house and was left wondering how his reputation had been damaged by his friendship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Friends claim that Andrew privately admits that his appearance on the BBC’s flagship news program in 2019, where Emily Maitlis accused him of abusing Epstein’s “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre, when she was a minor laws of the United States, was not meant to be his best time.”
While allies accuse King Charles III and the Prince of Wales of “throwing him under the bus” and helping make him the “archetypal pantomime villain” in the Newsnight results, they insist the Duke is being “philosophical” about his banishment from public life.
Instead, the three years since the interview have been a period of “intense self-reflection” for the Duke, once dubbed the “Playboy Prince”, who has spent time examining “every aspect of his life” to understand how “it all came to be this way wrong, and why’.
Friends say Andrew, who was stripped of his HRH title, military connection and royal patronage in the wake of the Newsnight events, has finally come to terms with a ‘backseat’ role and is keen to operate ‘absolutely in the background’ as a ‘support figure’ for ‘The Firm’ .
Now living with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, at Royal Lodge, their 30-room home in Windsor Great Park, the Duke is a “virtual recluse” who ventures out to ride horses on the estate only twice a day. a week for an occasional swim or walk with his and Fergie’s royal corgis Muick and Sandy and five Norfolk terriers, insiders said. His forays into the street have also fallen sharply following the death of his mother the Queen, who he visited almost daily before she died at Balmoral last month.
However, Andrew is regularly visited by his daughters Princess Beatrice – who is understood to have been the only person in his inner circle to warn him against the Newsnight interview – and Princess Eugenie, as well as their husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank. The father of two is also focusing on spending more time with his grandchildren, daughter Beatrice Sienna and son Eugenie Auguste, both of whom are separated.
‘Unemployed’ Andrew, who receives no taxpayer funding, is reported to be able to get just £20,000 a year from his Royal Navy pension, but having recently splurged on a new £220,000 Bentley Flying Spur, is likely to be living on the income of 15 million pounds. acquisition of Sunninghill by a Kazakh billionaire in 2007. It is also alleged that he receives financial support from Fergie’s business interests, including her lucrative book from Mills & Boon, which the Telegraph claims could be in the “small millions”.
There is also speculation that the Queen may have been “filling their coffers” to ensure the Duke’s financial security and thereby “protect the monarchy”.
However, allies say Andrew fears Ms Giuffre could speak out again as she has only been linked for what the paper claims is one year, after the Duke reportedly paid around £8m out of court to settle her scandalous sexual assault lawsuit in the US.
Prince Andrew rides near Windsor Castle. Friends say he has been in private since the Newsnight interview
The Duke of York is a ‘virtual hermit’ who only rides horses twice a week, according to allies
The Duke of York opens up about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in his 2019 Newsnight car crash interview with Emily Maitlis
Andrew with Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell at Maxwell’s home in Belgravia, central London, in March 2001.
A friend told the Telegraph: “He has a much better understanding of the challenges he faces than at any other time in his life. He has a better sense of perspective — in part because he’s had those three years to reflect — get the job done and focus on his family. The present-day Duke of York is far more thoughtful and considerate than ever.’
They added: “He admits privately that Newsnight was by no means his finest hour.
“Those closest to him feel he has been treated horribly, but the Duke’s attitude is more like what it is.”
Representatives for the Duke declined to comment when contacted by MailOnline.
Andrew, 62, was stripped of his military titles and royal patronage in January as he battled allegations of raping Ms Giuffre as a teenager in London, Manhattan and the US Virgin Islands. He has repeatedly and vehemently denied the claims.
He settled out of court with Ms Roberts, who now uses her married name Giuffre, for an undisclosed sum but pleaded not guilty.
A legal document submitted to a US court in January by the Duke’s lawyers contained 41 separate rebuttals to the allegations made by Ms Roberts, including her claim that “Prince Andrew was a close friend of Ghislaine Maxwell”.
But in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, disgraced socialite Maxwell spoke tenderly about her friendship with the Duke.
“I feel so bad for him,” said the convicted trafficker, who knew Andrew since studying at Oxford University in the 1980s. “Yes, I’m watching what happens to him. This is the price he pays for the association [with Jeffrey Epstein]. I consider him a dear friend… I care about him.”
Asked about Andrew’s lawyers’ denial that they were close friends, Maxwell said: “I accept that that friendship could not have survived my conviction.”
She dismissed a photograph, first published by this newspaper, of the Prince embracing Ms Roberts at Maxwell’s home in Belgravia, central London, in March 2001, saying: “I don’t recognize the photograph and I don’t believe it. this is a real picture. There are so many things wrong with this. There is no original and there is no real picture and there are many other things that I am struggling to understand… I don’t know how many moments there are, but there are more than 50 problems with the image.’
Andrew with Sarah Ferguson in the car hours after Ghislaine Maxwell was interviewed by the MoS
Andrew and Maxwell at Ascot in 2000. A legal document filed in a US court in January by the Duke’s lawyers contained 41 separate rebuttals to allegations by Virginia Roberts that he sexually assaulted her when she was a minor under US law, including her claim that “Prince Andrew was a close friend of Ghislaine Maxwell”
Andrew has always denied claims that he abused Ms Roberts
Ewan Reilly, Maxwell’s ex-boyfriend, told ITV earlier this year that he believed she and Andrew “probably were girlfriend and boyfriend in the past”.
Asked about press reports that they were “as a couple, an item”, Maxwell said she would not entertain such speculation until an appeal against her conviction was heard. “I have read, seen, heard, and been told so many appalling inaccuracies that I cannot begin to sort them all out. If I pick one and then don’t address all the others, he’ll say, “Well, she said no to that one, but what about all the others?” I’m not going to discuss anything like that until the appeal is complete.”
She has been in prison since July 2020, when more than 20 armed FBI agents raided her 156-acre, £800,000 home in New Hampshire.
The Department of Homeland Security interviewed her on June 22 of this year at MDC, six days before her sentencing, and then several weeks after she was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, a low-security prison in Florida.
She was willing to discuss her friendship with some of the rich and powerful people associated with her and Epstein, including former President Clinton.
“It was a special friendship that lasted for many years,” she said of Clinton. “We had a lot in common. I feel bad that he is another victim, just because of his connection [with Epstein].’
She also expressed her gratitude to former President Trump, who sent her well wishes after her arrest.
“I was very grateful when he wished me well. He got some bad press for it, but he took the plunge and others didn’t. It gave me a big boost.”
Maxwell said the food at MDC was “really awful” and she was once so hungry she ate Vaseline. She is now in a 10-by-8-foot cell that is too small for her and her three cellmates to all stand up. “It’s a long way from a cozy country club,” she said.
After Epstein took her own life while awaiting trial, prison officials placed her under suicide supervision before sentencing. Maxwell, who said she had never considered taking her own life, described wearing an anti-suicide gown – a long tunic made of thick nylon – adding: “They strip you of any vestige of dignity you have.” They keep you unclothed and put a death row robe on you with velcro. So there is nothing to defend your modesty.’
In June, the Department of Health revealed that one inmate at MDC had bragged she was going to kill Maxwell, claiming there was a $1 million bounty on her head. Maxwell confirmed this weekend that the woman threatened to kill her while she slept.
Maxwell now works in the prison’s law library, where he helps other inmates with their cases.
Duke declined to comment when contacted by the Ministry of Security.