Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts: The explosive dossier

Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts: the explosive dossier: The Mail has spent months investigating Virginia Roberts’ claims she slept with Prince Andrew three times. The results are troubling and deeply revealing…

  • The morning of March 10, 2001, St Swithun’s in Winchester, played lacrosse against St George’s School, Ascot
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, elder daughter of the Duke of York, was among the opponents
  • In London that evening Andrew is said to have been introduced to American called Virginia Roberts, then 17
  • Virginia Roberts was almost five years older than Beatrice, but unlike Princess her childhood was unprivileged

A blustery, wet Saturday morning and St Swithun’s, a girls’ public school in Winchester, is about to host a lacrosse fixture against St George’s School, Ascot.

It is always a keenly fought affair. But there is a heightened anticipation in the home changing rooms on that morning of March 10, 2001. Among the Swithunites’ opponents in a junior match will be a genuine VVIP: she is Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, elder daughter of the Duke of York. The Queen’s granddaughter, no less.

The result of this clash has been lost in the mists of time. It is no longer of any consequence. But the same cannot be said of other events involving the York household as that Saturday unfolded.

For this was the ‘day of days’ as far as the Duke’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein paedophile scandal is concerned. In London early that evening Andrew is said to have been introduced to a 17-year-old American called Virginia Roberts.

Miss Roberts was less than five years older than Beatrice. But unlike the Princess, her childhood had not been one of great privilege; rather she suffered sex abuse, homelessness and drug problems before being recruited by the Wall Street billionaire as his personal ‘masseuse’ and ultimately became one of his groomed ‘sex-slaves’.

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George’s, Ascot, September 6, 2000

That evening, she says, she and Andrew danced together at Tramp nightclub. She claims they then returned to the Belgravia home of Andrew’s old friend and Epstein’s then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, where HRH put his arm around the teenager’s bare midriff to pose for that photograph.

‘Foreplay’ in the bathroom led to royal ‘ecstasy’ in an adjoining bedroom.

In short, the ruin that is the Duke’s reputation, his banishment from public life and the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing desire to question him about his part in the Epstein affair, can be traced back to Saturday, March 10, 2001.

The Duke emphatically denies having had sexual relations with Miss Roberts or any minor. He has said he cannot recall ever having met her, not least in an infamous interview last year with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Miss Roberts was a victim of Epstein. She distressingly recounts how she was groomed and pressured by him into having sex with numerous men, all of them strangers. One can only imagine what a devastating effect this would have had on a 17-year-old girl.

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, March 13 2001

BUT WAS SHE ALSO A VICTIM OF THE DUKE?

Over a number of months the Mail has conducted a forensic investigation of her allegations against Andrew.

We have secured the testimonies of previously unheard eyewitnesses, found new top-level sources and confidential documents, and analysed thousands of legal exhibits from Epstein cases that have been released into the public domain.

The Mail has examined the as-yet unexplained variations and discrepancies within Miss Roberts’ various accounts.

MYSTERY OF HIS ROYAL MAN-ICURE 

Closer inspection of his fingernails (left) on March 10, 2001

It is a picture which has gone around the world millions of times and been subjected to enormous scrutiny.

But now there is a new twist in the iconic image of Prince Andrew smiling with his left arm around the waist of a young Virginia Roberts at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home.

As we reveal in our bombshell investigation, the Duke was booked to have a manicure at his Surrey home on the afternoon of March 10, 2001 — hours before he is said to have been pictured with Miss Roberts.

Closer inspection of his fingernails appears to suggest that if he did have beauty treatment that day, the manicurist — a woman called ‘Jeanne’ — did not file much away.

His fingernails appear to be quite long, not what some might expect after a manicure.

Miss Roberts maintains the photograph was taken when Epstein, Ms Maxwell and Andrew returned to Maxwell’s mews house after a visit to Tramp nightclub.

Last year, Andrew’s friends reportedly suggested the picture may have been doctored, particularly regarding his hands. However, Andrew has chubby fingers and in a shot taken of him at around the same time this indeed appears to be the case.

Commenting on any inaccuracies, she has said: ‘You are left with a foggy memory sometimes, you really are,’ and: ‘I might be wrong on dates absolutely and I might be wrong on places even, sometimes.’

Given the awful trauma that she suffered at Epstein’s hands, this is entirely understandable. And what she alleges took place almost 20 years ago. Memories fade.

Nonetheless she has accused the Duke of having had three sexual encounters with her in 2001. Public opinion is against him and his protestations of innocence. At the heart of this hostility are the alleged events of March 10, 2001, and the infamous photograph which appears to corroborate her claims of intimacy between them.

Now, for the first time, the story of that day can be told up to the point where their two narratives collide.

FERGIE’S BRUNCH AND SCHOOL SPORTS

In his disastrous interview on BBC Newsnight last year, the Duke said of March 10, 2001, ‘The Duchess was away (and) we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other (parent) is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home’.

He was pressed on this by Maitlis: ‘So you’re absolutely sure that you were home on the 10th March?’

‘Yeah,’ he answered.

Before we examine the Duke’s recollection, let us confirm the whereabouts of the Duchess and the reason for her absence from Sunninghill Park (the couple’s much-derided, ranch-style mansion near Ascot).

The Mail has learned of the existence of a private document which appears to set out the Yorks’ expected schedule for that day.

It is in effect a household diary and the entries were purportedly handwritten by the Duchess sometime before March 10, 2001. It is not possible for the Mail to verify exactly when they were written. But, as we shall see, the diary’s existence today does offer an explanation for the provenance of one of the most remarked upon claims put forward by the Duke during his Newsnight interview.

The Duchess’s commitments in the diary are covered by the single cryptic entry ‘NY Brunch 11.’

The entry is a reference to a meeting which the Duchess was to undertake in Manhattan that morning, New York time.

Since her separation and divorce from the Duke, her lifestyle had seen her run up enormous personal debts, said to be as much as £4 million.

In an attempt to close this huge deficit, the Duchess had entered into a number of lucrative commercial partnerships, trading on her royal connection. Her attendance at that brunch on March 10 was part of her deal with the chinaware firm Wedgwood, which was paying her a salary of more than £500,000.

On March 7, she had been boosting the firm in Atlanta, Georgia. The Mail has located a contemporary flyer which shows that by March 9 the Duchess had moved on to the state of Virginia.

There she gave a presentation to 500 shoppers in the dress department of Hecht’s department store in the small but wealthy town of McLean (population 38,000).

The advertisement promised the Duchess would show ‘how she resists routine and bends the rules of home entertaining. With a dash of imagination she creates a memorable table’. She would also share ‘glimpses of her own private life’.

Afterwards she would autograph Wedgwood pieces in the women’s department. Attendees were advised seating should be reserved, along with purchases to be signed by the speaker.

Meanwhile, the Duchess was also appearing in a U.S. TV advertisement (another £400,000) for investment firm Schwab in which she talked to the ‘putative bride for a prince about the importance of understanding how money works.’

Someone else who certainly knew how money worked was Jeffrey Epstein, from whom the Duchess borrowed £15,000 to cover a debt.

So the Duchess was 3,000 miles from home, repairing her financial catastrophe. Back at Sunninghill Park — which he still shared with his ex-wife and daughters, then aged 12 and ten — the Duke was the sole parent in charge.

Sources say the girls’ weekday nanny had taken the Saturday and Sunday off, her supervisory role taken by a weekend housekeeper and butler. How would the day progress under the Duke’s direction?

Princess Beatrice has ‘absolutely no recollection’ of the Pizza Express birthday party her father has claimed to have attended at Pizza Express, Woking (pictured)

‘B — lacrosse match vs St Swithun’s (away),’ says the first entry.

Then ‘E — netball trophy 10-12.’ Princess Eugenie was also in sporting action, though the entry does not say where. Nor can the diary confirm the Duke’s attendance at either event.

Whether he did cheer from the touchlines or not has no impact on Roberts’ own account of the day. But the narratives of accuser and accused were approaching the collision point.

NOISES OFF AND THAT PIZZA ‘ALIBI’

In the Newsnight interview, the Duke volunteered what he claimed to have been one of his (blameless) domestic tasks during the late afternoon of March 10.

‘I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party, at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon,’ he said.

‘Why would you remember that so specifically?’ asked Maitlis. ‘Why would you remember a Pizza Express birthday?’

‘Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do,’ he replied. ‘I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly. As soon as someone reminded me of it, I went: ‘Oh yes, I remember that.’ But I have no recollection of ever meeting or being in the company or the presence.’

The idea of ‘Air Miles Andy’ hanging out at a branch of Pizza Express in the M25 commuter town of Woking attracted scepticism, if not ridicule. So did the Duke’s lack of recall of any other detail about this occasion. It also failed to pass muster as an alibi for his denial of having been at Tramp in London that night.

But he had mentioned the episode only because someone had ‘reminded’ him. Presumably that someone had access to the same household diary described more recently to the Mail.

There are three entries in that document which apparently relate to the afternoon of March 10, 2001. The first reads ‘B — xxxxxx’s party @Ambassadors Theatre, Woking.’ Mail inquiries have found the party host, whose name we have redacted, was a girl at Beatrice’s school. The Ambassador Theatre Group owns the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. That Saturday the New Victoria was hosting a touring production of Michael Frayn’s classic backstage farce within a farce, Noises Off. Patricia Hodge was among the cast. Saturday matinees at the New Victoria usually begin at 2.30pm.

This is the exact time listed alongside the next entry in the diary. That entry is a single word: ‘Manicure.’

According to the diary, this beauty treatment was not booked for the Duchess or her daughters. The manicure was for ‘A’ — Andrew, the Duke himself. It was to be carried out by a woman called ‘Jeanne’, the entry says.

Duke of York, speaking about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis

This clash in timings suggests that the Duke did not drop Beatrice at the theatre, which was more than ten miles from their home, if she was to make it there in time. In any case, the Princess had her own police bodyguard who would have accompanied her to the event.

What then of the Duke’s ‘weirdly’ distinct recall of his time in Woking that afternoon?

The third and final entry in the diary for that Saturday afternoon offers some explanation if not salvation. It says ‘Pizza Express’.

The Mail understands that the branch on Goldsworth Road, Woking is where the birthday party-goers went for a post-theatre meal.

Noises Off is not a long play, typically lasting no more than two hours and ten minutes including interval. The Woking branch of the restaurant is only half a mile from the New Victoria Theatre. The schoolgirls might therefore have been expected to arrive at the venue a little after 5pm. At best, the Duke’s Newsnight recall — ‘I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party, at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon’ — was a guesstimate based on the diary entry and a faint memory. But if the Princess had attended the matinee, as the diary suggests, she should have arrived in Woking several hours earlier than that — just when the Duke was due for his manicure.

It’s possible that for some reason she had only attended the meal and not the theatre, dropped off by her father at 5pm, as he recalled. Or was she perhaps picked up by the Duke after the meal had finished, despite his specific Newsnight claim that he had ‘taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express’?

We understand he now has a ‘vague recollection’ of being parked up and ‘waiting under a railway bridge’ nearby. The main Waterloo-to-Exeter railway line runs through Woking. It crosses over a main road some 300 metres from Pizza Express. Still, it is an odd detail for the Duke to remember, when he forgets so much else.

What of Princess Beatrice? Alas for the Duke, according to an impeccable source she has ‘absolutely no recall whatsoever’ of this Pizza Express party or her father picking her up. She qualifies this inability to support her father’s account, by stating that as a schoolgirl she went to ‘any number’ of meals at the Woking Pizza Express. She cannot remember every single one, two decades after the event.

The Mail has also received a statement from the parents of the girl who threw the Pizza Express party. The family were anxious to help the Yorks. But while they said that Beatrice did go to their party they have no pictures nor a recall of the event.

‘We had made a deliberate decision from the outset not to take photographs of, or around, Bea as it seemed to be permanently open season among some parents who indulged in this sport,’ the parents explained.

‘The party was almost 20 years ago. We were living in Woking and had two daughters at prep school there. Not only were their birthdays celebrated in Pizza Express but almost every beginning of term, end of term and half-term. Pizza Express was just the place they liked to go for their treats.’

Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday – Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right), the Earl and Countess of Derby. June 22 2000

They added: ‘Bea was one of our daughter’s friends at school. There were no special arrangements or formalities regarding her parents, they were frequently around the school and the girls’ social lives. They were informal and unobtrusive.’

There is a point to this close examination of the Duke’s vague recollections of what he claims was his innocently spent day.

What if the Duke didn’t play any direct part in Beatrice’s attendance at the birthday party, leaving the fetching and carrying to her bodyguards or his domestic staff?

Once ‘Jeanne’ had completed his manicure, he could have been driven to Central London before 5pm.

If the Duke was only in Woking briefly, between 4-5pm as he said, then conceivably he could also have reached the capital in time for late tea with Epstein and his entourage.

But if the Duke had been present as a hands-on father to pick up his daughter at the end of the birthday meal, and then taken her back to Sunninghill Park, he could not have been in Central London that night much before 8pm.

This last scenario is the only one of the three incompatible with his accuser’s own account of what happened that afternoon and evening.

And as we shall see, there are more troubling issues ahead.

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