Will he deploy the chubby fingers defense?
Prince Andrew this week recorded a “no holds barred” interview with the BBC about his friendship with the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, which will be broadcast on the BBC’s flagship Newsnight program on Saturday night.
It represents a seismic change of strategy by the prince and one that is likely to make mandarins at the palace deeply nervous. Until now, Andrew has relied on issuing the same strongly worded statement denying there was any “impropriety” with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who claims she was abused by Andrew at the age of 17.
Andrew has also sought to cast doubt on a notorious photograph of himself with his arm around Roberts, with friends briefing newspapers that the photo is fake, and that his fingers are “much chubbier” in real life.
However, Andrew was clearly a close friend of Epstein: Sources have told The Daily Beast that Andrew was paraded as a guest of honor at parties that Epstein threw at his cavernous New York residence.
Another witness was quoted by the New Republic magazine saying they saw Andrew receiving a foot massage from two “well-dressed Russian ladies” in Epstein’s home.
Epstein was found dead in his New York prison cell three months ago.
Andrew’s friendship with Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged madame, Ghislaine Maxwell, is also likely to be explored by interviewer Emily Maitlis.
Friends of Ghislaine have told The Daily Beast that she was tasked with introducing young women to Andrew whom he might have a sexual interest in.
Andrew has an unfortunate reputation for saying daft things in interviews and it will be fascinating to see how he has handled himself when this footage airs.
No doubt the prospect is causing palpitations at the palace.
No clips have yet been released of the interview.
Epstein’s accuser Virginia Giuffre Roberts says Andrew was “an abuser, a participant” in her exploitation as a teenager and says she was forced to have sex with him. She alleges that she was flown around the world on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express,” for sex with the prince and other men.
Now a married mother, Roberts said: “That first time in London I was so young. Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and said you’re going to meet a prince today. I didn’t know at that point I was going to be trafficked to that prince.
“That night, Prince Andrew came to her house and we went out to Club Tramp. Prince Andrew got me alcohol, it was in the VIP section, I’m pretty sure it was vodka. Prince Andrew was like let’s dance together, I was like OK.
“We leave Club Tramp and Ghislaine said he’s coming back to the house and I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein. I couldn’t believe it.”
Roberts said that after sex in the bathroom Andrew “said thank you and some kind of soft sentiments like that and left.”
Andrew denies the allegations.