Of all Prince Andrew’s calamitous errors of judgment, few are as damaging as his decision to pose for a photograph with his arm around Virginia Roberts, the fingers of his left hand skimming the 17-year-old’s bare waist.
Taken at the Belgravia home of Andrew’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell, the photograph has become his millstone. In it, he grins at a camera said to be in the hands of his paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein.
The picture has been reproduced countless times around the world since it was first published by The Mail on Sunday in February 2011 – but until today it has never been shown in its entirety.
The photograph, published for the first time in its entirety, shows the interior of Ghislaine Maxwell’s Belgravia home. The prince has his arm around 17-year-old Virginia Roberts and Miss Maxwell smiles from the background
The Prince has tried – rather desperately, critics say – to suggest it was somehow faked. First unnamed friends cast doubt upon it and then, during his disastrous TV interview, Andrew himself said he didn’t ‘believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested’. He also expressed the hope that the original might one day surface, as though this might exonerate him.
In fact, the full, uncropped picture – a copy of the photograph shown to The Mail on Sunday by Miss Roberts – does nothing to advance the Duke’s cause.
Seldom do pictures appear in newspapers without being cropped for compositional reasons, and so it was with this image. The complete picture reveals further detail of the interior of Ms Maxwell’s house, in particular what appears to be a large post-Impressionist painting hanging on the wall, its bottom corner obscured by a flash of white, possibly one of Epstein’s fingers partially covering the lens.
Leaving technical issues aside, the circumstances surrounding how it was obtained all point to the picture being genuine.
At the time Miss Roberts gave it to The Mail on Sunday, she was living a quiet life with her family on Australia’s Central Coast.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre will have her first UK interview on Prince Andrew and his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein published on Monday next week
The Duke of York was sacked from his royal duties earlier this week after he gave a car crash interview on BBC Newsnight. He is pictured leaving Buckingham Palace on Thursday
He was sacked from royal duties this week following a car crash interview with BBC Newsnight. The Queen was pictured riding with the Prince on Friday, in a move that is thought to signal her support for her ‘favourite son’
She wasn’t trying to seek any limelight. She had no wish to be found but was traced by this newspaper’s then New York correspondent, Sharon Churcher, who was investigating reports that the FBI was planning to reopen an investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenagers by Epstein. He had previously admitted to soliciting sex from girls as young as 14.
At first Miss Roberts was reluctant to talk, not least because she harboured fears that Epstein, who sexually groomed her from the age of 15 before ‘lending’ her to rich, powerful friends, might try to kill her. After finally agreeing, she served The Mail on Sunday team coffee on the patio adjoining her modest three-bedroom bungalow and produced the picture of Andrew from a white envelope containing a collection of photos chronicling her teenage years and travels with Epstein to New Mexico and Paris.
She explained that the picture with Andrew was taken at Ms Maxwell’s home after a visit to Tramp nightclub – a claim the Duke disputes. ‘All of us went upstairs and I asked Jeffrey to snap a picture of me with the Prince. I wanted something to show my mom,’ she said.
The Duke of York, pictured with solicitor Paul Tweed in Country Antrim in September, has tried to suggest that the image was somehow faked and that the fingers are not his
Prince Andrew has come under mounting pressure since his interview on BBC Newsnight a week ago
Until this meeting, she had simply not considered the picture’s significance. Some commentators have pointed out that when she gave it to this newspaper, she made no claim of having been sexually trafficked to him – but instead waited another four years.
This is not the case. She told Churcher at the meeting that she had sex with Andrew three times while a teenager, but for legal reasons the MoS could not publish her claims, which the Duke denies.
In his TV interview, Andrew hinted that the hand around her waist may not be his. ‘From the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph,’ he said.
Miss Roberts gave the original to the FBI which, incidentally, has never questioned its veracity.
Pictured: Prince Andrew enjoys a party at Tramp nightclub just 72 hours after Virginia Roberts’s claims that she danced with him there when ‘he was grabbing my hips’
By Charlotte Wace and Ian Gallagher for The Mail on Sunday
Deep in conversation with a female friend, Prince Andrew enjoys a party at Tramp nightclub just 72 hours after Virginia Roberts’s claims that she danced with him at the same venue when ‘he was grabbing my hips and… pouring with perspiration’.
On this occasion, March 13, 2001, the Duke was accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. They joined 150 guests celebrating the 40th birthday of racehorse breeder Guy Sangster, the son of racing tycoon Robert Sangster. Andrew was photographed talking to Guy Sangster’s wife Fiona.
Other luminaries at the event included fashion designer Bruce Oldfield and George Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven.
Prince Andrew, pictured in Tatler magazine, was shown enjoying a party at the Tramp nightclub just 72 hours after Virginia Roberts claimed that she danced with him at the same venue. He was talking to Fiona Sangster at a party to celebrate the 40th birthday of racing tycoon Robert
According to Tatler magazine, which sent a photographer, ‘In true Tramp fashion, the partying continued till 4am’. Whether Andrew stayed to the end is unknown but asked during his BBC interview last week about his ‘party Prince’ reputation, he replied: ‘Well, I think that’s also a bit of a stretch. I don‘t know why I’ve collected that title because I don’t… I never have really partied.’
Although the celebrations were held on March 13, Mr Sangster’s birthday actually fell on Saturday, March 10. Coincidentally, that is the date that Ms Roberts places Andrew at the club. Then aged 17, she alleges that after dancing with him at Tramp, they later had sex at Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house in Belgravia – the first of three alleged sexual encounters with Andrew. The Prince denies all the allegations.
According to Tatler, dancing was in evidence at the Sangster party ‘although many of the guests’ routines seemed stuck in a time warp’.
When asked during the Newsnight interview whether he remembered dancing at Tramp on March 10, Andrew replied: ‘No, that couldn’t have happened because the date that’s being suggested I was at home with the children.’
Asked how he was so certain of this, the Duke replied: ‘On that particular day that we now understand is the date which is the tenth of March, I was at home, I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of four or five in the afternoon.’
The doors of the Tramp nightclub pictured in London last week. Prince Andrew was in the club on the actual date of Robert Sangster’s birthday