New docuseries airing Aug. 21 on A&E explores allegations that Epstein sex-trafficked women and girls to Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II
Since Jeffrey Epstein died under mysterious circumstances in his prison cell in August 2019 while awaiting sex-trafficking charges, and his right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell received 20 years behind bars for her part in the sex-trafficking operation (in a low-security prison, without having to name names), there’s still an overwhelming air of suspicion, confusion, and anger surrounding the notorious pedophile and the rich-and-powerful men who found themselves in his inner circle. Justice doesn’t seem like it’s been served when Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, and other Masters of the Universe haven’t really had to answer for their ties to one of the most notorious sex criminals of the 21st century.
The closest we’ve come to seeing an Epstein associate face the music is Prince Andrew during his notorious 2019 interview on BBC Newsnight. That cringe-inducing chat with the British royal forms the backbone of Secrets of Prince Andrew, the latest installment in A&E’s documentary series.
“Whenever the BBC and the royals meet, somebody always gets fired,” offers then-BBC Newsnight host Emily Maitlis in the docuseries, adding, “I didn’t think it would be him.”
Secrets of Prince Andrew, a three-hour docuseries that will air in two parts Aug. 21 on A&E, features interviews with the BBC Newsnight team that scored the big interview, along with Palace associates and friends of Prince Andrew, ex-politicians, lawyers David Boies and Sigrid McCawley (who represented Epstein trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre), Epstein victim/former model Lisa Phillips, and others. Unfortunately, it also features the input of journalist Vicky Ward, who’s parlayed a splashy 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein into a number of doc opportunities (even though, as The Guardian noted, she wrote a Vanity Fair blog post in 2011 that was “strikingly uncritical of Epstein” and called his sex crimes “sexual peccadilloes”), and attorney Lisa Bloom, who’s represented a number of Epstein victims but is probably more famous for helping advise Harvey Weinstein from 2016-2017 as he faced a wave of sexual misconduct allegations. Get Julie K. Brown in here, please.
The docuseries jumps back and forth through time, recounting how Prince Andrew’s team had been having talks with then-BBC Newsnight producer Sam McAlister since 2018 about setting up an interview, first pitching him around his charity Pitch@Palace, but repeatedly drew a “red line” at any Epstein questions, so the BBC passed. We get an overview of Prince Andrew’s uber-privileged royal life where, as the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, he was the “spare,” or second in the line of succession to the throne, making him a person of dubious import — though Prince Harry, who was born into a similar position, has managed to keep a good head on his shoulders. When he returned from the Falklands War, where he served in the Royal Navy, Prince Andrew was considered a “war hero” in certain circles and took advantage of that distinction, dating a never-ending series of models and actresses, earning the nickname “Randy Andy” in the tabloids.
As the spare, Prince Andrew was given a £249,000 annual allowance (paltry compared to Charles), and lived well beyond his means. So, he linked up with Maxwell, who ran with a wealthy, famous crew that could provide him the life of luxury (and royal court?) he wanted. Maxwell would introduce Prince Andrew to Jeffrey Epstein, who would introduce him to Bill Clinton. Secrets of Prince Andrew explains how Epstein and Maxwell were the invited guests of Prince Andrew at the royal country estates Balmoral and Sandringham, and even attended personal birthday parties at Windsor and were introduced to members of the British royal family. Epstein also accompanied Prince Andrew on taxpayer-funded trips abroad owing to his trade envoy duties, and Epstein covered a £15,000 debt owed by Duchess Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife. One of the docuseries’ talking heads alleges Epstein once said, “There’s only one person who likes sex more than me, and that’s Andrew.”
According to Dickie Arbiter (incredible name), the former Buckingham Palace Press Secretary, “The fact that [Epstein] was invited as a guest of Andrew would have been to private events, so Andrew would have sought permission from the Queen to invite him. The Queen would believe her children that if they were OK, they were OK. Who’d heard of Epstein in the 1990s? It’s almost as if Andrew fell under his spell. He could provide exotic holidays. He could provide yachts. He could provide girls.”
In 2008, Epstein reached a controversial plea deal wherein he pleaded guilty to procuring a child for prostitution, even though authorities had spoken to 36 girls, many underage, who said they’d been sexually abused by him. He served 13 months, and afterward, was allowed back into New York society life.
Tabloid reporter Annette Witheridge says in the docuseries that in December 2010, the News of the World phoned her with a tip that Prince Andrew was in New York City. So, Witheridge called a photographer to join her and visited Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion, where she spoted the British royal protection squad outside. Witheridge and her photog camped outside the giant home.
“During this time, there were young girls going in and out like every hour and a half, two hours. Two would come in, one would go out,” Witheridge says in the docuseries.
They returned the next day, and spotted Andrew and Epstein leaving the building — and proceeded to follow them in a car around the city. The photographer eventually caught the two men walking and talking in Central Park, and it ran with the headline: “Prince Andy and the Paedo.”
The photos angered Virginia Giuffre, an Epstein sex-trafficking victim, who subsequently gave an interview to the Mail on Sunday about an infamous 2001 photo of Andrew with his arm around her 17-year-old waist, flanked by Maxwell. Giuffre would later claim in a lawsuit that she was sex-trafficked by Epstein to Prince Andrew when she was 17 years old.
“Virginia was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew. Nothing voluntary here,” Giuffre’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, maintains in the docuseries. “So, she was being trafficked by two adults throughout not only the United States but also internationally. And, when they made demands on her to take action with respect to intercourse with an individual, she had to fulfill those demands. And unfortunately, she had to do that very regularly.”
Giuffre ultimately sued Prince Andrew — and the royal evaded process servers for quite some time before finally being served legal papers. Prince Andrew settled with Giuffre for £12 million ($16.3 million) in 2022 in lieu of facing a civil trial.
Then there’s the matter of the BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew. Emily Maitlis, who conducted the interview, says she fell ill and was “terrified” prior to the sit-down, but you certainly couldn’t tell by the way she expertly exposed her royal subject. During the chat, Prince Andrew squirmed and mumbled, claiming he had no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre and that her account was untrue because he is not possessed of the ability to sweat (or at least wasn’t at the time), and went to a Pizza Express the night she alleges they danced at a nightclub and Giuffre was trafficked to him after — two excuses that made the prince the subject of ridicule.
We learn that Prince Andrew and his team were convinced that he did a good job during the talk since, as Maitlis recalls, “He stayed chatting. He seemed very jolly,” while McAlister says that the royal’s flacks told her they thought he was “wonderful.”
A week later, Prince Andrew stepped down from his royal public duties. The Queen later stripped him of his duties and titles.
The most poignant part of Secrets of Prince Andrew comes courtesy of Lisa Phillips, a former model who says she was one of Epstein’s victims. In 2000, she booked a modeling job in Tortola. The other model on the shoot said she had a fun friend who owned a nearby island, and they should go. So, they went to Little Saint James, now nicknamed “Pedophile Island.” And Phillips found herself at a dinner with a bunch of models who looked “in their early twenties or late teens” hosted by Epstein. Phillips says that Prince Andrew appeared at the dinner to say goodbye, as he was departing the island, and that she soon fell under Epstein’s sway, alleging she was “groomed” by him and “sexually abused” by him “under the umbrella of a massage.”
“I feel like my story started with Prince Andrew and it ended with him,” Phillips says in the docuseries.
Later in Secrets of Prince Andrew, Phillips visits Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse for the first time in ages, calling the experience “eerie.”
“I have a long list of friends that will not ever speak bad about him,” she says. “And I understand why they don’t want to because I suppressed it, I mean, over 15 years, and I when I started talking about it, it was so traumatic for me. I almost wish that I had been like them and suppressed it… Sometimes I wish I had just never talked about it. When you start to realize it, you start to feel ashamed.”
Phillips explains that she sat down for the docuseries because of what happened to a close friend of hers, who she does not name.
“The main reason I’m speaking out is because I had a dear friend who — something tragic happened to her,” Phillips shares in the docuseries. “I was over at her house one night and she just broke down crying, and I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And she said that Jeffrey [Epstein] told her, when she was at his house, to go into the room with Prince Andrew. And she did it. She went into the room, had sex with him. That was it, and just walked out.”
She continues: “Jeffrey told her to do it. I guess it was consensual. It wasn’t a sexual assault. She was overage. Maybe she was 19 or 20 at the time. Probably 19. I don’t really know what’s consensual or not in that situation. I don’t know how to define it. It just was traumatizing. She was a completely different person after. Her life went completely out of control.”
Phillips says she stopped speaking to Epstein after that reveal, but not before confronting him about what she’d heard.
According to Phillips, Epstein told her, “It’s good to have things on people.”
“He had a lot of secrets on a lot of high-powered men,” Phillips says. “I want to see him pay for what he’s done — along with a lot of the other men who were involved in the whole circle.”