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.
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.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more from dailymail.....