Prince Andrew described his alleged victim Virginia Roberts as ‘a very sick girl’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal today.
The Duke made his insensitive remark in a message to a friend and business associate just days after Ms Roberts described the appalling abuse she had suffered at the hands of Andrew’s paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein.
Her shocking revelations – which came in this newspaper – were accompanied by the now-infamous photograph of the Prince with his arm around her waist.
The apparently dismissive comment to his friend – who had asked how Andrew was coping with the scandal –appears to question the mental health and credibility of Ms Roberts, who later claimed she was forced to have sex with Andrew from the age of 17 after being trafficked by Epstein.
The Duke made both the bad-taste joke and his comment about Ms Roberts’ health to his friend Jonathan Rowland in 2011
Last night a lawyer for clients suing the Epstein estate said: ‘Until Andrew talks to the FBI about his relationship with Virginia – and what he knows about the other victims and wrongdoers – it’s his credibility at stake, not hers.
‘Virginia’s mental health is excellent and has been throughout, although it has been severely tested by Andrew and Epstein.’
The revelation comes as:
- The Duke faces mounting demands, including from Ms Roberts, to co-operate with an FBI investigation into Epstein’s sordid activities;
- Four of Epstein’s other alleged victims urge Andrew to talk to the FBI for the sake of ‘your daughters and their children’, warning him in a powerful open letter published in today’s Mail on Sunday that ‘the world is watching’;
- This newspaper reveals that the Prince also sent the same associate a repellent ‘joke’ about breast cancer, raising serious questions about his judgment.
The Duke made both the bad-taste joke and his comment about Ms Roberts’ health to his friend Jonathan Rowland in 2011.
The ‘very sick girl’ slur came in an exchange seen by the MoS. Mr Rowland, the son of controversial property tycoon David Rowland, had contacted Andrew, saying: ‘Hope the press isn’t getting you down to [sic] much.’
Notorious: The photograph of Andrew, Ms Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001 in London
The Duke replied: ‘Not at all!… She is a very sick girl apparently. The innuendo is the problem. But there is nothing that one can do for that! Shrug and move on.’
His comment appears to show little sympathy for Ms Roberts, who had bravely waived her anonymity to tell the disturbing story of the years she spent as Epstein’s sex slave.
The Duke similarly failed to show sympathy for Epstein’s victims during his disastrous BBC interview with Emily Maitlis in November that ultimately led to him quitting Royal duties. During the questioning, Andrew insisted he had no recollection of ever meeting Ms Roberts, now 36 and going by her married surname Giuffre.
But the messages between the Duke and Mr Rowland suggests that Andrew had spoken to someone – possibly billionaire Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell, who is alleged to have procured young girls on Epstein’s behalf – about her claims.
Last year it emerged that the Duke asked for Ms Maxwell’s help in dealing with Ms Roberts’s claims in 2015. In an email uncovered by BBC’s Panorama, the Prince wrote: ‘Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.’ Ms Maxwell replied: ‘Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.’
The exchange with Mr Rowland is one of the few times Andrew has directly referred to Ms Roberts, who claimed she was forced to have sex with the Duke in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein. She claimed that Andrew bought her alcohol in London’s Tramp nightclub in March 2001, when she was 17, before they had sex at Ms Maxwell’s home. The Duke, 59, has vehemently denied the allegations against him.
A war of words erupted last week between US prosecutors and the Duke over his willingness to help the FBI’s inquiry into Epstein. US attorney Geoffrey Berman accused the Queen’s son of providing ‘zero co-operation’, but sources close to the Prince hit back, saying he was ‘more than happy to talk’ but ‘hasn’t been approached yet’.
The apparently dismissive comment to his friend – who had asked how Andrew was coping with the scandal –appears to question the mental health and credibility of Ms Roberts (pictured)
Ms Roberts last week urged him to ‘do the right thing’ and talk to US investigators. Tweeting a picture of a mocked-up missing persons poster featuring the Prince, Ms Roberts wrote: ‘Tick tock Andy –time to talk!!’
Epstein served 13 months in jail after striking a controversial plea deal over sex charges in 2008, was rearrested last July and found dead in jail the following month.
In another message to the Duke, Mr Rowland asked: ‘How is it in the trenches! Hope you are surviving.’
The Duke replied: ‘Keeping head below the parapet! Been trying to engage with the media on all fronts but they won’t listen to sense at the moment. Hopefully HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] will, finally, swing in today.’
Mr Rowland advised that it is ‘sometimes best to ignore them and disappear for a while’, but Andrew insisted it was ‘no time to hide’.
Their discussion came after a Mail on Sunday interview with Ms Roberts, published on February 27, 2011. As part of our report, we stated that she had undergone counselling to cope with her past and had, years earlier, seen a psychiatrist and been on antidepressants. Our report did not, however, detail the current state of her mental health.
During his BBC interview in November, Andrew repeatedly stressed that he had ‘no recollection of ever meeting’ Ms Roberts, adding: ‘I’m convinced that I was never in Tramp with her… I can tell you categorically I don’t remember meeting her at all. I do not remember a photograph being taken.
‘I’ve said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever.’
Last year this newspaper revealed the extraordinary financial ties between Andrew and the Rowlands, with the Duke plugging a Luxembourg-based bank for the super-rich that the Rowland family owned while he was on taxpayer-funded trips as Britain’s trade envoy.
Other leaked messages between Andrew and Mr Rowland show how the pair discussed secretly continuing their controversial business relationship ‘under the radar’.
The Duke last night declined to comment.
Prince Andrew, the world is watching: Four of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims write an open letter to the Duke urging him to talk to the FBI for the sake of ‘your daughters and their children’
The Duke of York was under renewed pressure last night after four of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims signed an open letter urging him to talk to the FBI for the sake of his ‘daughters and their children’.
It warns the Queen’s second son that ‘the world is watching’ and says he has the chance to be on the right side of history.
The victims say the Duke has the ability to create positive change, and they exhort him to take ‘the decent and moral path’ to help authorities in the US with anything he had observed during his friendship with the convicted paedophile.
Last week, the Duke’s accuser Virginia Roberts, who claims she was forced to sleep with him three times, issued a similar plea, saying he should do the right thing and adding: ‘Tick tock, Andy – time to talk!!’
The open letter is written by a former model who uses the name ‘KiKi’ (pictured) and is countersigned by three unnamed ‘Jane Doe’ victims
Her intervention came as a top US prosecutor accused Andrew of providing ‘zero co-operation’ despite a request for an interview.
The open letter is written by a former model who uses the name ‘KiKi’ and is countersigned by three unnamed ‘Jane Doe’ victims. All four are clients of Los Angeles-based lawyer Lisa Bloom.
It says: ‘Please help the US authorities with anything you may have observed in your time spent with Jeffrey Epstein.
‘Do it for the victims who have lived a life of suffering, shame and humiliation. You can make things better for us and for future generations with your co-operation.
‘Do it for your daughters and their children. You have a chance to be on the right side of history. The world is watching.’
KiKi broke down in tears on a US talk show last year as she described being assaulted as a teenager by Epstein at his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein, 66, killed himself last year as he awaited trial on child sex abuse charges.
Last week, Andrew and the FBI were at odds over whether the Prince had ignored requests for help in the Epstein inquiry. The Duke’s friends claimed he would be happy to speak to US investigators but ‘hasn’t been approached yet’.
However, the Americans insisted that was untrue, claiming they had tried several times to arrange an interview. On Monday, New York attorney Geoffrey Berman accused the Duke of ‘zero co-operation’.
He gave a press conference outside Epstein’s New York mansion, where Andrew had stayed, and said that the Duke had failed to keep his promise to help police probing ‘co-conspirators’.
On the spot: Prince Andrew peers out from inside Jeffrey Epstein’s New York home
He claimed the FBI and US prosecutors had written to Andrew’s lawyers seeking an interview but were snubbed.
On Tuesday, an anonymous source close to the Duke said ‘nothing could be further from the truth’ and stressed that Andrew was ‘more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn’t been approached by them yet’.
In December, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a new witness had come forward to corroborate claims that Andrew was dancing with Ms Roberts at Tramp nightclub in London.
The letter sent by Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims
Prince Andrew, the world is watching.
You have been blessed with a privileged life and with the ability to influence and create positive change. Please help the US authorities with anything you may have observed in your time spent with Jeffrey Epstein.
Do it for the victims who have lived a life of suffering, shame and humiliation. You can make things better for us and for future generations with your co-operation.
Do it for your daughters and their children. Do it for your family, so that they may be proud that you have taken the decent and moral path.
You see, the dilemma we face as victims is not so different from your choice to hide in order to protect yourself.
The difference is that we are trying to right wrongs, despite our crippling fears, and you are perpetuating them through apathy, inaction and denial.
You have a chance to be on the right side of history. The world is watching. Please look past your fear and help those who could not help themselves.
Ms Roberts says Epstein forced her to have sex with the Prince after a night of dancing at the club in March 2001.
After watching the Prince deny Ms Roberts’s claims during his ‘car-crash’ interview with Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, a woman came forward to insist that she had seen him at Tramp that evening.
Lisa Bloom flew to London to interview her and also tracked down a second person – a friend of the woman she originally came to interview – who supports her account of the night in question.
During the Newsnight interview at Buckingham Palace, the Prince said he was not at Tramp and had taken his eldest daughter Beatrice to a party at Pizza Express in Woking that afternoon, and then went home.
Ms Bloom told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The first woman, a Londoner, contacted me after she saw Prince Andrew’s interview.
‘She was very disappointed that he denied knowing Virginia and denied being at the club.
‘That is what spurred her to come forward. No one should be above the law.’
She added: ‘The FBI is looking into Prince Andrew. They want to speak to him.
‘He has said he wants to co-operate with law enforcement and yet it doesn’t seem to be happening, so I would like to help this move forward.’
The Duke of York has vehemently denied Ms Roberts’s claims that she had sex with him on three occasions.
Revealed: Prince Andrew made sick ‘gag’ about breast cancer in boorish texts to his friend Jonathan Rowland (and it’s too offensive to be repeated)
In his now-infamous Newsnight interview, Prince Andrew described himself as someone with a ‘tendency to be too honourable’.
The self-aggrandising remark may have surprised those familiar with the Duke’s reputation for rudeness and boorish behaviour.
But a message containing a repellent so-called ‘joke’ about breast cancer, sent by Andrew to a friend and business associate, is likely to shock even those used to his gauche sense of humour.
The Mail on Sunday has seen the appalling message, sent to his friend Jonathan Rowland.
It appears to be a gross distortion of a BBC news report about the benefits of breastfeeding. It is too offensive to be repeated.
In his now-infamous Newsnight interview, Prince Andrew described himself as someone with a ‘tendency to be too honourable’. He is pictured with Epstein in New York
The crude pastiche was circulating on the internet and Andrew, 59, forwarded it to Mr Rowland in an ill-judged attempt at humour.
The Duke sent the message in March 2011 to Mr Rowland, who described it as the ‘latest email from HRH’. Mr Rowland then forwarded it to his father, David, another of Andrew’s friends and business associates.
Mr Rowland Snr responds to his son, asking if the message had been sent by the Duke. Jonathan Rowland replies: ‘Yes he’s nuts.’
The revelation is likely to infuriate the Palace as there are 13 cancer charities with links to members of the Royal Family, including the Queen, the Prince of Wales and Prince William. It is not the first time that the Duke has been accused of highly offensive and inappropriate behaviour.
Last November, former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claimed he made racist remarks about Arabs during a state banquet for members of the Saudi royal family in 2007. Separately, a former Downing Street adviser claimed that Andrew used the N-word during a meeting at Buckingham Palace. The Palace denied the Duke used racist language.
Andrew sent the breast cancer ‘joke’ at the height of the scandal about his links with convicted paedophile Epstein. It came less than three weeks after The Mail on Sunday published an exclusive interview with Virginia Roberts, one of Epstein’s sex slaves, in which she revealed she was flown to the UK to be introduced to the Prince. The report included a photo of Andrew with his arm around Miss Roberts at the London home of Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
Andrew was Britain’s trade envoy from 2001 to July 2011 and earned a reputation for boorish behaviour. In 2010, Simon Wilson, a former deputy head of mission in Bahrain who hosted the Prince, revealed how he was known throughout the Gulf as HBH – His Buffoon Highness – ‘because of his childish obsession with doing exactly the opposite of what had been agreed’.
The Duke of York declined to comment last night.
ELIZABETH DAY: Andrew’s cancer ‘joke’ was bad enough… but it’s timing just days after pictures emerged of him arm-in-arm with Virginia Roberts made it even worse
Prince Andrew has a talent. He is truly, exceptionally gifted in one specific area. It is not, unfortunately, a talent for anything especially useful. He is not particularly skilled at being a member of the Royal Family, given that such a role requires discretion, good judgment and an unimpeachable reputation in order to be carried out effectively.
Nor was he a success as a UK trade envoy. He stepped down from that made-up position in 2011 after a string of controversies and diplomatic incidents which saw one ambassador describe him as ‘cocky’ and ‘verging on rude’.
No, Prince Andrew’s natural flair and ability is for something else entirely. It is for making situations incalculably worse for himself. It is for taking terrible decisions and then myopically standing by them. It is for possessing a tin ear for how things appear to the ordinary people who have not been brought up in gilded palaces, attended to by whispering courtiers and ingratiating yes-men since the day they were born.
It is, in short, a gift for manufacturing shovels magically out of thin air with which to dig himself into an ever-deeper hole of ignominy. In this sport, Prince Andrew is truly an Olympic champion.
Prince Andrew has a talent. He is truly, exceptionally gifted in one specific area. It is not, unfortunately, a talent for anything especially useful
We saw his capacity for self-sabotage in full flow in the now-notorious Newsnight interview in November, during which Emily Maitlis quizzed him on his close association with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. It was an unwitting masterclass in misplaced defensiveness and unchecked self-aggrandisement.
In it, the Duke was so busy claiming to be ‘honourable’ and working up an improbable alibi involving malfunctioning sweat glands and Woking’s Pizza Express, that he couldn’t find a spare second in which to express a shred of compassion for Epstein’s victims.
Not once did he express concern for those young girls who had been trafficked and assaulted by his good friend, the convicted sex offender.
Instead, he repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong and would help the authorities if he could. But last week, the New York state attorney Geoffrey Berman accused the Prince of offering ‘zero co-operation’ with the US inquiry. If that is true, it seems an odd stance for a man who has nothing to hide.
Now we have his messages to a friend and business associate. At first glance, they might seem relatively inoffensive – a couple of joshing missives exchanged with friends. A bit off-colour, maybe, but who among us doesn’t have a slightly creepy uncle who tells crude ‘jokes’ at Christmas and seems overly interested in the bridesmaids at family weddings?
We saw his capacity for self-sabotage in full flow in the now-notorious Newsnight interview in November, during which Emily Maitlis quizzed him on his close association with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein (pictured)
Then you think about the timing. These were sent in March 2011, within days of this newspaper publishing a photograph of the Duke posing with his arm around Virginia Roberts’s waist and shortly after incriminating pictures emerged of him walking with Epstein around Central Park.
One of the emails consists of a cut-and-pasted fake news story about breast cancer that is so tasteless it turned my stomach.
It is a ‘joke’ which manages the double whammy of being utterly unfunny AND stupid.
There is no wit to it; it is a poorly constructed jibe which uses cancer patients as an excuse for a sexual punchline. I truly can’t think of anyone in their right mind who would find it amusing.
The other email refers directly to Roberts, one of Epstein’s victims who would later allege that she was instructed to have sex with Andrew on three occasions from the age of 17. The Prince categorically denies her claims. But at the time of this email, questions were beginning to be asked about the nature of his relationship to the young woman.
And what did the Duke of York have to say about it? Not much. He dismissed Roberts as ‘a very sick girl, apparently’.
With that short but telling phrase, the Prince manages to be both patronising (in his eyes, Virginia Roberts, who by this time was 28 years old and married, is a ‘girl’ not a woman) and to cast aspersions on her mental and physical wellbeing.
It reminds me of those men who seek absolution for their terrible past behaviour by referring to all their ex-girlfriends as ‘crazy’ or ‘hysterical’, as if instability is a peculiarly female trait; as if none of us can quite be trusted to keep our wits about us.
Also pay attention to that ‘apparently’ – a concession that this opinion is second-hand. Had this matter been mulled over with others, behind closed doors? Why would it need to be talked about if there were nothing to discuss?
Even if we were to give Andrew all the benefit of all of the doubt; even if we were to believe everything he says, wouldn’t most of us feel some sort of compassion towards a woman who had, in all likelihood, been one of the minors Epstein admitted to prostituting in 2008?
Instead of casually labelling her ‘very sick’ in an email to friends, wouldn’t we have taken a moment’s pause to wonder whether the sick one in this particular dynamic was Jeffrey Epstein? I think most of us would have done that, don’t you? Not Andrew. He goes on to say that he will ‘shrug and move on’.
Of course he will. It is what, up until this point, he has been able to do all his life. He has never had to accept responsibility for his actions because he has been insulated by a bubble of privilege he refuses to see or acknowledge.
It’s why, when I interviewed him several years ago and asked him if he ever wondered what his life might have been like were he not a member of the Royal Family, he became visibly irate. He simply could not conceive of an alternate reality. He lacked the empathetic muscle to imagine himself into the life of an ordinary person and it angered him that he had been asked to try.
So I’m not surprised by the lack of compassion shown in these messages but I wish it were different.
I wish Prince Andrew could astonish us all with some vestige of self-reflection. I wish he could understand what others find offensive in the words he uses and in the way he behaves. I wish he could demonstrate a willingness to change, to co-operate with the authorities and to show he cares.
But I suspect that, in the end, he will always be blinkered to the plight of anyone other than himself – forever shrugging and moving on.