Prince Andrew secretly met longtime Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell inside Buckingham Palace earlier this year, two weeks after Epstein was placed under a second investigation by US authorities, The Sun reported late on Saturday, citing sources.
“The Duke and Ghislaine met at the Palace. She brought four other people with her [...] They were all smartly dressed and looked very official, very serious and business-like. There was no way it was a social occasion. They stayed for about two hours", a source said, cited by The Sun.
Prince Andrew has reportedly admitted that he had seen Maxwell during the summer, but denied discussing Epstein, The Sun said.
Earlier this month, one of Epstein's alleged sex victims - a 31-year-old woman who wishes to remain unidentified - said in a Manhattan lawsuit that the paedophile and his female associate, allegedly Maxwell, together raped her when she was 15 at Epstein's Zorro Ranch in New Mexico.
Maxwell is accused of being Epstein’s pimp, also introducing Prince Andrew to another alleged sex victim, Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, The Sun said. Giuffre testified that Maxwell required the former to give "massages" and engage in sexual activities with Prince Andrew and several others, as well as participating in orgies while she was a minor.
The royal family and Prince Andrew have categorically denied involvement in any crime or having knowledge of the crimes committed by Epstein.
In April, another Epstein accuser, Maria Farmer, now 50, filed a sworn affidavit alleging she and her 15-year-old sister were sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell in 1996. Farmer testified, cited by The Sun, that Maxwell drove around New York plucking young women off the street to become 'models', only to take them to be sexually abused by Epstein and his associates.
Maxwell is also pictured, standing in the background, on one of the main pieces of evidence against Prince Andrew; a 2001 photograph of Giuffre, now 35, with the Duke of York’s arm tightly around her waist, when she was 17. Earlier, some UK-based media claimed, citing unnamed sources said to be close to the royal family, that the image was 'doctored'.
The Sun reported that the FBI is seeking to question Maxwell over her links to Epstein. Maxwell has not been seen in public since August, five days after Epstein's death in jail.
Epstein, a convicted sex abuser, had been under investigation for nearly two decades at the time of his suspicious death in custody earlier this year. The convicted paedophile - who has been linked to many wealthy and powerful people, including US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump - was inexplicably taken off of suicide watch, despite reportedly trying to kill himself just weeks earlier. He was sentenced after being convicted as a sex offender and paedophile. Epstein served a light sentence of just 13 months.