London: Virginia Roberts Giuffre recalled a whirlwind trip to London with her employer, financier Jeffrey Epstein, when she was 17.
It began at a town house where Prince Andrew was talking about his ex-wife, the Duchess of York. It moved on to a club, where she said she and the prince danced, and he sweated profusely. And it ended when, she said, she was ordered to have sex with him.
“It was disgusting,” Giuffre said in an interview broadcast Monday by the BBC. “I sat there in bed and felt horrified and ashamed.”
“I had just been abused by a member of the royal family,” she continued. “These powerful people were my chains.”
Giuffre’s account of the trip in 2001, and of two other incidents when she said she had sex with Prince Andrew at Epstein’s homes in New York and in the Caribbean, was the first time she described her story for a British audience.
It is likely to deepen the scandal surrounding the ties between Epstein, a convicted paedophile who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in August, and Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II.
The interview did not break new ground in the allegations against Prince Andrew, which are contained in legal documents. But it put a face to the woman who has accused a member of the royal family of being involved with sexual trafficking. And it drew another flood of revulsion from the British public, many of whom posted their reactions on social media.
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations, saying in his own recent BBC interview that he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre.
“I’m calling [expletive] on this,” she said. “He knows what happened. I know what happened. There’s only one of us telling the truth, and I know it’s me.”
Giuffre acknowledged that the passage of time may have fogged her memory about the dates or places of certain events. But she said she had a vivid memory of dancing with Prince Andrew. “He is the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said. “His sweat was like, ‘it’s raining everywhere.’ “
For Prince Andrew, whose public career has already been ended by the scandal, the interview may be most significant because it underscores his potential legal exposure in the criminal cases involving Epstein.
The BBC programme, Panorama, reported that David Boies, a lawyer representing five women who say they were abused by Epstein, plans to serve subpoenas to force Prince Andrew to testify as a witness in those cases.
“One of the things we have tried is to interview Prince Andrew and to try to get what his explanation is,” Boies said. “He was a frequent visitor. They ought to submit to an interview. They ought to talk about it.”
Giuffre’s interview was a bookend of sorts to an interview Prince Andrew gave last month. In denying that he had sex with her, the prince offered as an alibi that he had taken one of his daughters to a pizza restaurant in suburban London on a night in March 2001 when she says they had the encounter.
He said her memory of him sweating on a dance floor could not have been accurate because he suffered from a medical condition, dating back to his combat duty in the Falklands War, that made it impossible for him to perspire at that time.
Prince Andrew evinced little sympathy for the victims of Epstein’s predatory behaviour in the interview. He said he had stayed with his friend at his Manhattan mansion, even after Epstein had served prison time for soliciting a minor for prostitution, because it was “convenient.”
The reaction to Prince Andrew’s remarks was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Several charities with which he was associated distanced himself from him, he was urged to testify under oath to the FBI and his brother, Prince Charles, urged the queen to strip him of his public duties, which she did.
For the royal family, it was the worst public relations debacle since the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana in a car crash — stirring questions about the ageing queen’s control over her family and drawing calls from the British news media for Prince Charles to take a more central role at Buckingham Palace.
For Giuffre, who described a history of abuse dating back to her childhood, the alleged encounters with Prince Andrew left her, she said, even more sickened than those with Epstein, whom she described as “having a sickness that could not be cured,” or with his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of procuring teenage girls for him, and who Giuffre described as vicious.
“This is not some sordid sex story; this a story of being trafficked,” she said. “This is a story of your guys’ royalty.”