Did Prince Andrew meet Jeffrey Epstein YEARS before he claimed?

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Prince Andrew actually met Jeffrey Epstein years before he has claimed, according a letter written by his former private secretary.

During his disastrous Newsnight interview on Saturday, the Duke of York told Emily Maitlis he had met Epstein through the since-disgraced financier's girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell,  'back in 1999'.

He said: 'Well, I met through his girlfriend back in 1999 and I'd known her since she was a university in the UK.'

But a letter written to The Times newspaper in March 2011 by the Duke's then-private secretary Alastair Watson suggests he may have met Epstein years earlier.

Major Watson, who spent nine years in the role of Andrew's private secretary, was writing to the newspaper countering claims the duke was friends with Saif Gaddafi.

But, in a now key passage, he wrote: 'There has been widespread comment on the duke's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

'The duke has known Mr Epstein since being introduced to him in the early 1990s. The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the duke are without foundation.'

Prince Andrew told Newsnight's Emily Maitlis he first met Jeffrey Epstein 'back in 1999' but a letter has now come to light which suggests it may have been years earlier

Prince Andrew told Newsnight's Emily Maitlis he first met Jeffrey Epstein 'back in 1999' but a letter has now come to light which suggests it may have been years earlier

Prince Andrew was seen again leaving his home in Windsor at 7.45am this morning  but he has not spoken publicly since his widely-panned BBC interview

Prince Andrew was seen again leaving his home in Windsor at 7.45am this morning  but he has not spoken publicly since his widely-panned BBC interview

Prince Andrew at Jeffrey Epstein's home in 2010

A letter written by Andrew's former private secretary, Alastair Watson, suggests they met in the early 1990s

Left: Prince Andrew at Jeffrey Epstein's home in 2010. A letter written by Andrew's former private secretary, Alastair Watson (right), suggests they met in the early 1990s

The Times letter was unearth after it was claimed Andrew had 'gaps' in his diary and was allegedly unaccompanied for several hours in New York at a time when Virginia Roberts was in the US and said they had sex.

The Duke of York denied the alleged liaison with Epstein's 'slave' was possible because of his full itinerary while in the city as patron of the Outward Bound Trust in April 2001.

The letter in which Andrew's secretary said he met Epstein 'in the early 90s'

The letter in which Andrew's secretary said he met Epstein 'in the early 90s'

In his BBC's interview he appeared to squirm when asked about it but replied he was too busy working and said: 'I don't think that could have happened at all'.

But today a former aide on the US trip to the Big Apple and then Boston told the Telegraph there were gaps in his itinerary but was unsure if the duke met with Epstein.

The Court Circular - the royal family's official public diary - shows that he jetted into New York from London on the morning of April 9 2001, landing at around midday and had a free afternoon.

On the same day Roberts flew into a private airport near New York on Epstein's 'Lolita Express' private jet, which later flew to his US Virgin Islands hideaway, now nicknamed 'paedo island' because of the crimes committed there. 

Andrew had nothing pencilled in for his first day in New York and the aide who briefed the Telegraph last night was asked if the duke went to meet Epstein and said: 'I've no idea'. 

Andrew had a full diary of Outward Bound events in NYC on April 10 before he flew up to Boston that evening so prepare for events the following morning to meet school children.

That afternoon, on April 11, he flew back to New York where aides then transferred on to a flight back to the UK but the duke stayed in the US.

It is not known what he did for the eight days before he appeared in South Korea for an official engagement, including whether he flew to Seoul from the UK, the US or elsewhere. 

He was pictured leaving Buckingham Palace last night, his first appearance since the interview

Jeffrey Epstein died in custody earlier this year

Prince Andrew (pictured, left, leaving Buckingham Palace last night) may have met Jeffrey Epstein nearly three decades ago, a newly-unearthed letter suggests

Prince Andrew on Thompson Island in Boston on April 11, 2001, during the Outward Bound trip to the United States one aide claims contained some free time in New York on April 9. Andrew told the BBC on Saturday that his packed diary made it impossible

Prince Andrew on Thompson Island in Boston on April 11, 2001, during the Outward Bound trip to the United States one aide claims contained some free time in New York on April 9. Andrew told the BBC on Saturday that his packed diary made it impossible

The duke denies meeting Virginia (together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview

The duke denies meeting Virginia (together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview

Revealed: Andrew's movements on 2001 trip to New York and Boston where Epstein's slave claims they had sex

April 9, 2001: Duke of York jets into New York from London landing around lunchtime and has no engagements that afternoon. Aide sat he was unaccompanied.

On the same day Jeffrey Epstein's jet carrying his 'slave' Virginia Roberts lands at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, half an hour from Manhattan.

The plane later flies on to Epstein's private island in the Caribbean but it is not known when. Royal aide has 'no idea' of Andrew met Epstein.

April 10: Andrew has a full day of engagements with the Outward Bound Trust [OBT] before flying up to Boston in the evening.

April 11: Duke jets back to New York and his staff all go back to London but he stays in the US. 

April 19: Duke starts tour of South Korea. It is not known if he flew there from America or from the UK. 

Andrew was asked about whether he slept with Virginia on the New York trip and told Emily Maitlis on Saturday: 'I think that the date we have for that [the New York encounter] shows that I was in Boston or I was in New York the previous day and I was at a dinner for The Outward Bound Trust in New York and then I flew up to Boston the following day and then on the day that she says that this occurred, they'd already left to go to the island before I got back from Boston. So I don't think that could have happened at all.' 

The Telegraph source said the Outward Bound trip had taken place 'a long time ago' and it was impossible to pinpoint his movements in New York, when he is accused of having sex with Virginia, then aged 17.

But the insider defended the duke and said they believe he wouldn't have slept with Roberts. 

'The Duke is absolutely not capable of this. Epstein is clearly horrible but I'm confident (of the Duke's innocence). It's inconceivable,' the source said. 

MailOnline has asked Buckingham Palace to comment on the Telegraph's claims.

A spokesman said: 'The Duke's words in his interview speak for themselves', adding: 'It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.' 

Andrew was earlier seen leaving Windsor Castle for London - but sources close to the Queen insisted that he was not summoned by his mother

Andrew was earlier seen leaving Windsor Castle for London - but sources close to the Queen insisted that he was not summoned by his mother

Andrew, pictured driving a Bentley followed by his security team in a Land Rover Discovery, as his trip to flood-hit South Yorkshire was scrapped. The Palace blamed electioneering up there but insiders contradicted this by claiming it was because of his BBC disaster

Andrew, pictured driving a Bentley followed by his security team in a Land Rover Discovery, as his trip to flood-hit South Yorkshire was scrapped. The Palace blamed electioneering up there but insiders contradicted this by claiming it was because of his BBC disaster 

How Duke of York's annual meetings with Epstein including after he was sent to jail caused Prince Andrew decades of trouble

Here is a timeline of the duke's relationship with Epstein.

- 1999

Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.

Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen's private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein 'infrequently', adding 'probably no more than only once or twice a year'.

- 2000

Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald 's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew's 40th birthday, the Princess Royal's 50th, the Queen Mother's 100th and Princess Margaret's 70th.

- 2001

Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew 'three times, including one orgy', with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell's London townhouse. Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein's New York home and at an 'orgy' on his private island in the Caribbean.

- 2008

Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

- 2010

Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York's Central Park.

Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein's Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.

- 2011

The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.

- 2015

Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: 'Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.

'I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.'

In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge's ruling.

- 2019

Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire's Manhattan apartment in 2001.

Buckingham Palace said the allegations are 'categorically untrue'.

Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.

Later that month a pilot on Epstein's private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts.

The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001.

Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having 'a number of inconsistencies' and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.

Following Epstein's death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is 'appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes'.

Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: 'At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.' 

On November 16, the prince gave a 'disastrous' BBC interview in which he spoke about his friendship with Epstein and addressed allegations of his own sexual conduct.

He faced a barrage of criticism following his television appearance, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with Epstein's victims. 

During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some "seriously beneficial outcomes", giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

The duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.

Prince Andrew has finally broken cover 72 hours after his BBC catastrophe as he was banished from royal duties and sent to sit behind a desk at his mother's house.

The Duke of York should have been meeting flood-hit communities in the north of England yesterday but instead he was diverted to Buckingham Palace as the backlash after his Newsnight special kept getting worse. 

Sources close to the Queen denied she had summoned her son from Windsor for crisis talks amid the furore over his interview about convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

They insisted it was 'business as usual' for the beleaguered royal and they angrily hit back at media coverage of the debacle, saying the public 'traducing' of the prince was turning into a 'personality-motivated witch-hunt'.

But his visit to the flood-hit towns of Fishlake and Stainforth in South Yorkshire was called off as big businesses abandoned him because of his toxic links to Epstein and allegations he had sex with the paedophile's 'slave' Virginia Roberts when she was 17.

Public confidence in him is also on the rocks after a poll found just one in 20 people who watched the Newsnight special were convinced by his bizarre alibis including being in Pizza Express on the night Virginia claims they had sex in London.   

MailOnline revealed last night that five multi-million pound businesses have cut ties with Prince Andrew's Dragons' Den-inspired charity [email protected] after he was skewered by Emily Maitlis.

And it has emerged that his ex-wife Sarah

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