Files relating to Prince Andrew’s trips as a U.K. trade envoy will be kept secret by the British government until 2065, sparking allegations that officials “want to sweep it all under the carpet” from anti-monarchy campaigners.
The Duke of York quit public life in disgrace over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein after a car-crash November 2019 interview.
He also settled a lawsuit in which Virginia Giuffre said she was forced to have sex with the royal in London, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell while she was a trafficking victim. Andrew denied the allegations but paid her an undisclosed sum.
Biographer Andrew Lownie is writing a book about the duke, famously Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite son, and submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for U.K. Foreign Office documents from Andrew’s time as a British trade envoy.
However, he was told they would remain secret until 2065, 105 years after Andrew’s birth, in line with special rules designed to keep files on royal family members private.
Ordinarily, government documents are declassified after 20 years, meaning any files held by the Foreign Office at the time of the allegations against Andrew would already be in line for release.
Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, told Newsweek: “There’s no justification for it. There’s always a reason why people hide things, which is because they don’t want to be embarrassed or caught up in scandal.
“Andrew was accused of very serious sexual offenses, it would be appropriate to release these files.
“There’s certainly anecdotal evidence that he was an embarrassment as a trade envoy. There have been reports in the past of people complaining about him.
“Clearly they want to sweep it all under the carpet and save the government and the royal family some embarrassment.”
Among past complaints, Andrew was reportedly caused offense on trade visits and was referred to as “His Buffoon Highness” by diplomats, according to Simon Wilson, Britain’s former deputy head of mission in Bahrain.
However, there is also potential the Foreign Office could help answer some questions relating to Prince Andrew’s friendship with Epstein, including during a key visit to New York.
The prince was famously photographed with the New York financier in Central Park in December 2010, after Epstein had served his sentence for soliciting prostitution from a minor, handed down in 2008.
Andrew told journalist Emily Maitlis during his 2019 BBC interview he had stayed overnight in Epstein’s home in order to break up their friendship.
However, documents disclosed during a lawsuit between the U.S. Virgin Islands Government and JP Morgan bank show Epstein and Andrew appear to have discussed a possible oil investment at the time.
The court filing, disclosed by The Mail on Sunday in July 2023, read: “On December 2, 2010, Jeffrey Epstein forwards an email to Staley from Prince Andrew with an inquiry the Prince received from Aria Petroleum looking for a $200m working capital line.
“Since the company is based in the US, Prince Andrew appeared to suggest Epstein connect them with a US bank.”
It is not clear whether the discussion formed part of Andrew’s role as trade envoy and the Foreign Office declined to comment at the time.
However, any diplomatic communications about the New York visit or the deal itself could help to either undermine or cement Andrew’s account of his friendship with Epstein.
By the time they are released in 2065, however, Andrew will likely have either passed away or be at the very end of his life, significantly diminishing interest in the issue.
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.
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