When speaking to ABC News’ Pierre Thomas on Thursday about the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, Attorney General William Barr made it clear that the US Justice Department wants to talk to Prince Andrew, known for his decades-long communication with Jeffrey Epstein, who hanged himself in August 2019.
Meanwhile, the Southern District of New York has been seeking the prince's assistance in the Epstein inquiry for quite a while, but in vain. Despite the Duke of York legal team's assertions that he was of assistance to US investigators, then US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman officially stated on 8 June that the prince had repeatedly declined requests to schedule an interview while "falsely portray[ing] himself" as "eager and willing to cooperate".
'Prince's Friendship With Epstein Has Been Subject of Concern for Years'
Prince Andrew's behavior and controversial statements have left more questions than answers, according to Leslie Carroll, a royal expert.
First, the prince insisted that he would willingly cooperate with the law, but then, during his BBC Newsnight interview last November with Emily Maitlis he failed to explain the infamous photo depicting him with then-teenage Virginia Giuffre Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell. Queen Elizabeth II's second son is being accused by Roberts of sexually abusing her, something the prince vehemently denies.
Second, Prince Andrew’s explanation for why he spent a week living at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2010 after the billionaire had been convicted as a sex-offender and when the prince’s stated reason for traveling to New York was to sever his friendship with the man he knew to be "toxic" was literally "mind-boggling", she continues.
"As we really expected to believe that the son of the Queen of England comes to New York and has nowhere else to stay but at the home of a man he knows is a convicted sex offender? For a whole week? Has the prince never heard of a hotel?" the royal expert asks rhetorically.
Now, when Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested, a fuller picture of how Prince Andrew was involved as a client of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring may finally emerge, Carroll foresees.
After the Duke of York strongly denied the accusations put forward by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, it would be disastrous for him if in a plea bargain with the FBI, Maxwell incriminates him, agrees Richard Fitzwilliams, public relations consultant and royal commentator.
"If other accomplices of Epstein are discovered there may also be problems for [Prince] Andrew, who hopes for a comeback to resume royal duties which is never likely to happen", the commentator presumes.
Meanwhile, a bizarre row between the prince's legal team and the American prosecutors over whether Prince Andrew has offered to assist or not does not make the case any better, according to him.
According to a BBC report, the American Department of Justice has made a mutual legal assistance request to the Home Office.
"This could lead to Andrew being compelled to give evidence in a British court under oath", the commentator underlines. "It has been stressed that he is not a target, it is simply that his cooperation is being sought, as a friend of Epstein, he could know useful evidence. It is high time this cooperation was forthcoming."
'Prince Andrew Should Stop Wriggling Around'
According to the observers, the only appropriate step for Prince Andrew to take is to speak with US prosecutors. "He has said he would do so", Carroll remarks. "They already know he was involved."
According to the royal expert, the more Prince Andrew "has played coy and obfuscated the full nature of his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein", the worse it has already been for him personally and for the royal family’s reputation as an institution.
"Prince Andrew should immediately fly to the US and be interviewed, and stop wriggling around, since it seems clear that he may be a vital witness", echoes William Mallinson, a former British diplomat and professor of political ideas and institutions at Guglielmo Marconi University. "It seems that noblesse oblige!"
Meanwhile, according to The Sun, Ghislaine Maxwell's arrest made the prince feel "uneasy". Citing a palace insider, the media outlet alleged that the Duke of York is unlikely to leave the UK for some time and will “never travel to the US again”. For its part, The Telegraph quoted Laura Goldman, an American stockbroker and Maxwell's friend, who expressed confidence that Maxwell would not provide any information about the prince to the FBI because of their friendship.
Maxwell, 58, has been charged with six counts relating to the sexual abuse of minors, including one count of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and two counts of perjury, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. She is expected to appear before a federal judge in New York on 14 July to address the allegations for the first time.