A closer look at Prince Andrew's friendship with Epstein and his scandal on Peacock's "Banished" doc

The disgraced royal was also stripped of all his titles and royal patronages amid a bombshell sex abuse lawsuit

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published October 7, 2022 8:29PM (EDT)

Prince Andrew (Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Andrew (Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Peacock's latest documentary, "Prince Andrew: Banished," refrains from awarding any sympathy to the Duke of York

The 90-minute showcase explores the disgraced royal's fall from grace after a string of his scandals and misdeeds, which all went ignored for years, were slowly exposed. In secret, the Prince maintained close friendships with convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. He was also accused of sexually assaulting and abusing a minor, which ultimately caused Queen Elizabeth II to strip her son of his military titles and royal patronages.

Simply put, Prince Andrew's ruination was "the scandal that rocked the royal family." For the Playboy Prince-turned-pariah, "his title protected him," but "his recklessness exposed him," per the documentary.

"Prince Andrew: Banished" features narration from royal experts, palace insiders and members of Prince Andrew's social circles along with the journalists and authors who covered — and attempted to disclose — the royal tea. The commentary and stories are also accompanied by archival, never-seen-before footage. 

Here's a closer look at the Prince Andrew scandal and its aftermath:

Early beginnings

Born in 1960, Prince Andrew is the younger brother of King Charles III and the third child and second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Growing up, the Andrew was loved greatly by his mother — so greatly that he was known to be her favorite child — which inflated his sense of privilege and sense of entitlement. The prince's public image was also influenced by his frivolous dating habits, which earned him a slew of nicknames. And because of his place in the line of succession after Charles, they were often referred to as "the heir and the spare" (much like how William and Harry have been dubbed).

According to a timeline from The Guardian, Prince Andrew joined the Royal Navy as a trainee helicopter pilot in 1979 and studied at Britannia Royal Naval College. In 1982, he served in the Falklands war and on HMS Invincible — a Royal Navy ship — as a Sea King helicopter co-pilot. Two years later, the prince was promoted to a lieutenant position and served as the Queen's personal aide-de-camp.

In 1986, Prince Andrew was officially named the Duke of York by the Queen. He also married Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson after his bombshell, 18-month-long relationship with actress and photographer Koo Stark was disapproved by the royals. After 10 years of marriage, the Prince and his wife parted ways on May 30, 1996. 

Andrew's relationship with Epstein and Maxwell

In 1999, Prince Andrew was introduced to Jeffrey Epstein through a mutual friend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. The prince met Maxwell while she was a university student at Oxford and their subsequent, close-knit relationship led many to believe that they were dating. 

Per his infamous 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight, Prince Andrew said he saw Epstein "once or twice a year, perhaps maybe maximum of three times a year and quite often if I was in the United States and doing things . . ."

He added, "But it would be a considerable stretch to say that he [Esptein] was a very, very close friend. But he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together and that's the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations, I mean it was a cosmopolitan group of what I would describe as U.S. eminents."

According to the Daily Mirror, flight logs show that Prince Andrew flew with Maxwell and Epstein in February 1999 aboard Epstein's personal jet to Little St. James, the financier's private Caribbean island. That same year, the prince allegedly hosted both Epstein and Maxwell at Balmoral Castle, according to a model who also attended the trip and later recounted it to Daily Mail.

In February 2000, the trio were spotted at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida before Prince Andrew and Maxwell attended a fashion show together in New York. On May 12, 2000, the prince, alongside Maxwell and supermodel Naomi Campbell, flew on Epstein's personal jet to his Palm Beach estate, where Epstein and Maxwell allegedly molested and sexually abused underage girls and young women.

On June 21, 2000, Epstein and Maxwell attended a joint birthday party hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle. The event, called the Dance of the Decades, "marked four royal birthdays including Prince Andrew's 40th," per the BBC. Prince Andrew also told the outlet that Epstein "was there at his invitation, not the Royal Family's, but was to some extent Ms. Maxwell's 'plus one.'"

The following day, Prince Andrew and Maxwell were seen attending the Royal Ascot together. Then, in September 2000, the pair attended the Wiltshire wedding of the prince's former girlfriend, Aurelia Cecil. On October 31, 2000, Prince Andrew and Maxwell attended Heidi Klum's Halloween party in Manhattan. And in December 2000, Prince Andrew hosted both Epstein and Maxwell for what he claimed was just "a straightforward shooting weekend."

The sexual assault allegations

On August 9, 2021, Virginia Giuffre filed suit against Prince Andrew for sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act. As a teenager, Giuffre worked as a locker room attendant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort where she met Maxwell, who invited her over to Epstein's Palm Beach home to train as a massage therapist.

Per the BBC, Giuffre said she was abused by Epstein and later, "passed around like a platter of fruit" among his high-profile associates. In 2001, at the age of 17, Giuffre said Epstein took her to London and introduced her to Prince Andrew. After going to a nightclub, Giuffre said Maxwell told her that she "had to do for Andrew what I [Maxwell] do for Jeffrey."

"It was a really scary time in my life . . . I wasn't chained to a sink, but these powerful people were my chains," she continued.

Giuffre claimed that the prince sexually abused her three times — first, at Maxwell's home in Belgravia, London; then, at Epstein's New York home and at an "orgy" on his private island. 

"As the suit lays out in detail, I was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him," Giuffre added. "I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one's life by speaking out and demanding justice."

In his 2019 BBC Newsnight interview, the prince said he had "no recollection of ever meeting this lady [Giuffre], none whatsoever" when asked about the allegations made against him. He adamantly denied all the accusations and firmly claimed that he didn't remember meeting Giuffre, even though his first encounter with her was photographed

"No, I've no recollection of ever meeting her, I'm almost, in fact I'm convinced that I was never in Tramps with her," he said when asked about his sexual encounter with Giuffre at Tramp Nightclub in London. "There are a number of things that are wrong with that story, one of which is that I don't know where the bar is in Tramps. I don't drink, I don't think I've ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there."

Prince Andrew's BBC interview was an effort to absolve him of guilt and clear his image, but that plan ultimately backfired. What came afterwards was his public downfall and estrangement from the royal family.

Andrew steps back

In response to backlash from his BBC interview, the prince announced that he would "step back from public duties."

Per a statement obtained by People, he said, "It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support.

"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

On Jan. 13  this year, the Queen stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles and patronages amid the lawsuit. Although he can no longer be addressed as "His Royal Highness," the prince can still use his title as the Duke of York and keep his position in line to the throne. Royal experts, however, have indicated that "King Charles has no plans to include him in the future of the monarchy," per Variety.

As for the lawsuit, on Feb. 15, Prince Andrew reached a settlement with Giuffre in which he paid an undisclosed amount of money to the plaintiff and made a "substantial donation" to her charity supporting victims' rights. According to court documents submitted to the New York court, Andrew also said he regrets his association with Epstein.

Despite the repercussions, Prince Andrew may face additional consequences involving his two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Per intel from a royal expert, Sky New Australia reported Wednesday that King Charles could strip the Princesses' royal titles over their father's friendship with Epstein, which has had a "disastrous impact on their royal futures."

"Prince Andrew: Banished" is currently available for streaming on Peacock. Watch the trailer below, via YouTube:

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Ghislaine Maxwell Jeffrey Epstein Peacock Prince Andrew Royal Family Scandal Sexual Abuse Tv