by Sandra Juncu
Prince Andrew’s role as UK Trade Ambassador might come to an end due to his friendship with US financier and recently convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
The scandal began last week after a picture was published of Prince Andrew with his arm around Virginia Roberts, aged 17. Roberts, who accused Jeffrey Epstein and his friends of sexual exploitation, declared that she met the prince at Epstein’s house where he allegedly enjoyed regular massages. Prince Andrew firmly denies all accusations.
Opinions in Downing Street are mixed.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, told BBC Radio 4 that the prince must decide for himself whether or not he wants to continue representing the UK: “He is a volunteer. He has offered to perform these roles, and I think it is down to him essentially to judge the position he wants to be in”.
Chris Bryant, a Labour MP, openly criticized the prince, saying that he might become “a national embarrassment”. Bryant told BBC Breakfast: “My worry is that sometimes when he goes on these [foreign] trips, I am not sure whether he is helping us out or he is just helping himself.”
Foreign secretary, William Hague, disagrees with Bryant’s assessment of the situation. He offered the prince his support on BBC1’s Politics Show: “I’ve seen a lot of benefits that he has brought in countries that I have visited where he’s been performing that role”
Alastair Watson, the prince’s private secretary, has defended Prince Andrew. He wrote, in an open letter to the Times: “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.”