Ghislaine Maxwell’s extended criminal trial, projected now at some six weeks in length beginning on November 29, will change the landscape of the Epstein saga in some important ways, not the least of which will be the picture that the U.S. prosecutors of the Southern District will painstakingly draw of the architecture of the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking and sexual abuse operation. Since it’s a prosecution of Maxwell and not one of her dead ex-boyfriend, such a picture as this one from inside the Epstein superstructure of abuse has never been wholly put forth in open court — despite the bits and shards that resulted in Epstein’s 2008 Florida trial, conviction and “deal.”
But no matter how the jury rules in early 2022, the government’s narrative of Ghislaine Maxwell’s actions will be aggressively presented, argued and, for some notable deinzens of Jeffrey Epstein’s black book such as Britain’s Prince Andrew, the revelations from witnesses and evidence alike will be intensely public. In order to better understand what legal and/or public relations vulnerabilities this proceeding holds for Prince Andrew, it’s important to recall that what’s being argued is the guilt or innocence of Epstein’s erstwhile girlfriend/majordomo, the one person in his life who, for more than a decade, allegedly melded his aboveground celebrity-collecting with his underground system of sexual trafficking and abuse. The government maintains that from 1994 to 2004, Ghislaine Maxwell was paid to be that enterprise’s prime architect and driver. With four government witnesses — all alleged victims of Ms. Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein — arrayed against her, Ms. Maxwell faces some 80 years on the four charges of conspiring with Jeffrey Epstein to traffic and to abuse females.
Parallel to that, some background is required to understand Ms. Maxwell’s decades-long relationship with Prince Andrew. A glittering British/French/American socialite and the youngest of disgraced Czech-British newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell’s seven children, Maxwell attended Oxford and has many friends in the highest reaches of British society, the arts, media, law, and charity circles included. She is at home in Paris, where she was born; her French citizenship was among the several reasons her bail has been repeatedly denied. The point is that her social matrix knows, or knew, no end. She knows Charles, of course, but chief among her royal contacts is Prince Andrew.
Now that the somewhat shopworn, paunchy, middle-aged Andrew seems only to lurch from one public relations implosion to the next, it’s difficult to recall his heyday, from the 1980s and 1990s right on through the Aughts, when the prince was quite the blade- about-town, especially so after his 1992 separation and 1996 divorce from the ungainly Sarah Ferguson. Internationally he was, briefly, on a similar upward trajectory, before he overplayed his hand and his friendship with a freshly-convicted Epstein caused him to withdraw as Britain’s special trade envoy.
Though Maxwell has known Andrew far longer than that, it was during this post-Ferguson period that Ghislaine Maxwell began to draw Andrew inexorably closer into her circle. That included, in the late 1990s and early Aughts, meeting her wealthy, then-new boyfriend in New York, Epstein. Andrew was sufficiently impressed to reciprocate, inviting the couple to a select royal birthday party and, as pictured above, to his mother’s box at Ascot on Ladies’ Day.
Since her famous father Robert had died in a fall in the middle of the night from the decks of his yacht named for her, the Lady Ghislaine, in 1991, Ghislaine Maxwell had made the move to New York and had discovered a new sort-of sugar daddy in Epstein. By 1994, according to her prosecutors, Maxwell began to transition from “girlfriend” and began to add the management of Epstein’s domestic and office staff as well as managing the intake of young women into the Epstein orbit to her job portfolio. She also brought her considerable transatlantic address book to the Epstein table, immeasurably broadening and upping the reclusive millionaire’s above-ground social life. Part and parcel of that was the couple’s intense, intimate cultivation of Andrew.
All British royals are well-schooled in being used, or more diplomatically put, “lending” themselves and their vast imprimatur to various causes. In one way it is the business of the “Firm,” as the royal family refers to itself — as the Queen’s and the Duke of Edinburgh’s thousands of appearances over seventy years of service attest. With varying levels of success, most British royals at least acknowledge the many delicate firewalls between public charitable work, business and private life. Historically, in social circumstances as well as in his role of Britain’s special trade envoy, Andrew and, latterly, his ex-wife, evinced a decidedly ham-handed style of mingling money-making business with the business of being royal — a distinct no-no among the royal family and in England.
But: Resolutely playing the field for a partner after his divorce, and thus alone in Maxwell’s and Epstein’s fluid, glitzy orbit by 1999-2000, Andrew found himself quite out of his depth. Pictured here at a February 2000 party to which he had been brought by Maxwell and Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Andrew obviously has no metric for this freewheeling American social scale and by definition does not realize the depth of the waters in which he swims.
By 2001, a few short months after the February 2000 Trump party, the relationship between the Maxwell, Epstein and Andrew had reportedly graduated in intimacy — which is to say, Maxwell had reeled Andrew in to the point that she felt confident enough to introduce the prince directly to Epstein’s and Maxwell’s underground lives. This decision — for it was, reportedly, a series of decisions on Maxwell’s and Epstein’s part — to have this take place in London is an interesting bit of tactical filigree in that it’s the prince’s home town. It’s that town above all others in which the object of the operation, Andrew, would feel most comfortable. Put another way, in his home town he would be less likely to note the whirring of the machinery around him.
This classic setup — of Andrew — mirrors the old-school Cold War “honey-trap” blackmail operations driven by an intelligence service intent on turning an enemy agent. In a word, if Epstein seemed to want to bind Andrew to him forever, through the prince’s old friend Maxwell, he apparently succeeded at that. Seen this way, the Maxwell trial can be said to be part of the fruits of Epstein’s labor in roping Andrew in to make him complicit, as Epstein did with so many other notable men in his black book.
According to Virginia Roberts Giuffre, she, the then-seventeen-year-old Virginia Roberts, was designated by Maxwell and Epstein to be Andrew’s prize. We have this narrative in three ways, courtesy of Ms. Giuffre and her lawyers. We have it in the public filing of her civil lawsuit for sexual abuse against Prince Andrew this past August 13; secondly, in her recently-released 2015-16 defamation-suit documentation against Ghislaine Maxwell; and finally in her unpublished as-told-to.
According to Giuffre, she was first instructed by Maxwell on a trip to London that she was going to meet a prince, and that she should entertain Prince Andrew with sex exactly as she routinely did with Epstein. In London — with a fresh passport, her first, also allegedly arranged by Maxwell — Virginia Roberts was taken shopping by Maxwell in preparation for the encounter. Giuffre details an excruciating evening at dinner and a nightclub leading up to the inevitable denouement with Andrew back at Maxwell’s mews house. The point is that to heave this crucial building block of Andrew’s ever deepening complicity into place via this evening out, it took Epstein and Maxwell a prodigious amount of forethought and a prodigious amount of money.
Andrew resolutely denies this encounter as well as the other two encounters with Virginia Roberts to this day, but there remains in Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s possession the one famously bleak touristic photograph, oft reproduced, taken according to Giuffre at her request by Jeffrey Epstein of Andrew with his arm around her waist, in Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, with Ghislaine Maxwell standing slightly to the right.
Fast-foward twenty years to the Maxwell trial in New York: Of the prosecution’s four witnesses — three of whom have been granted anonymity — Virginia Roberts Giuffre will not be among them. For Prince Andrew, not having the voluble Ms. Giuffre speak now over December and January in open court — in her detailed way, of her three alleged sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York, and on Little St. James — will come as a modicum of relief to his American and British lawyers, and possibly even to Charles and the Queen, whose courtiers have been tasked with keeping a close watch on the looming sea of legal and public relations threats in which Andrew’s frail craft now sails. Andrew’s confrontation with Ms. Giuffre awaits him in the form of her detailed civil action lodged last August, now slated to proceed in 2022.
Although it’s not yet known whether any of the four prosecution witnesses knew Andrew, there are multiple vectors of vulnerability for Andrew in any prosecution of his friend Ghislaine Maxwell. He was, reportedly, often a visitor to the New York, Palm Beach, and Virgin Islands properties. To gain mention at trial, Andrew’s presence at this or that Epstein venue has to be material, or at least circumstantially related, to Maxwell’s alleged criminality. That’s not outside the realm of possibility — given the accusations of Virginia Roberts Giuffre alone — though it does set a line with regards to Andrew that hasn’t yet been crossed, namely, that his role in the Epstein cosmos could be publicly debated under oath in open court, as opposed to simply being submitted in legal documentation, as it has been to date.
Put another way, unlike literally every other famous denizen Epstein’s black book, Prince Andrew is especially vulnerable in this approximately two-month proceeding to determine Ghislaine Maxwell’s alleged criminality because of the extreme depth and longevity of his friendship with the woman standing trial.
The second vector of vulnerability for Andrew lies in what we can call a legal carom shot, but it poses a serious danger. It lies in the prosecutors’ and/or witnesses’ potential for confirming — simply along the way in the prosecution of Maxwell — previously unconfirmed portions of Virginia Giuffre’s narrative. One insufficiently explored gray area would be: Virginia Giuffre’s narrative of her encounter with Prince Andrew on the Virgin Islands estate of Little St. James, where she alleges that she participated in what she describes in her 2016 deposition as an “orgy” with Andrew and an un-named group of young foreign women recruited and flown in by Maxwell and Epstein.
The relevant point to the Maxwell trial is that this was, according to Giuffre, a large group of young women flown in by Maxwell and Epstein, who were utilizing the privacy afforded by the island to engage in a scaled-up version of the behavior that they allegedly engaged in with individual women in New York, on the New Mexico ranch, and in Florida. In short, it took a lot of effort to arrange that trip to the island for everybody. The US attorney for the Virgin Islands, Denise George, has recently subpoenaed all Epstein flight logs to determine who was on the island when, which should shed some light on the timing of Andrew’s and his Royal Protection Officers’ movements.
There has also been anecdotal confirmation to the press of Andrew’s presence on the island with then-seventeen Virginia Roberts from Steve Scully, Epstein’s then telecommunications contractor. Now retired, Scully reports a breezy introductory exchange with Prince Andrew in 2001, as Andrew cavorted in the swimming pool with Roberts. No matter how the Maxwell trial works out for Andrew, arguably more ominous for the prince in battling the Giuffre lawsuit is the fact that Scully was deposed by Giuffre’s Boies, Schiller and Flexner legal team in October.
The Maxwell trial presents two further vectors of vulnerability for Andrew. The first is that Epstein’s Palm Beach butler, Juan “John” Alessi, has alleged in a deposition he filed in Virginia Giuffre’s 2016 defamation case against Maxwell that Andrew’s hitherto unremarked visits to the Epstein house in Palm Beach were more frequent than was previously thought to be the case. Alessi stated that Andrew “spent weeks with us” and had “daily massages.”
It’s not thought likely that Andrew would have been in the Palm Beach property without Ghislaine Maxwell having had a hand in arranging it and/or without her being present. She was Andrew’s minder for Epstein, the responsible person for Andrew’s “friendship” with the couple. Finally, as a friend of Andrew’s who had over decades coaxed him out to many venues, Maxwell would arguably know the prince’s likes and dislikes. Expressed as a formula, this premise would read: Whither Andrew in the Epstein empire, there is likely to be Ghislaine Maxwell pulling the strings. If the government’s prosecutors or its witnesses refer to, specify or fix Andrew in time in Palm Beach during the Maxwell trial, then Andrew will face hard questions about that.
The final, overarching problem that the Maxwell trial will present to Andrew will be a huge, domestic public relations one. Andrew lives in England, specifically at Windsor, in the Royal Lodge. His polls are in the cellar anyway, and the trial will be minutely dissected, daily if not hourly, in the British press, which has no love lost for the wayward prince. Put another way, during the two months that his old friend Ghislaine is in the dock in New York, Andrew can look forward to a daily news diet of many column inches devoted to every last moment he spent with Epstein and Maxwell during the benighted decade he was in their thrall. And that will have a way of making all the old stories about him seem brand-new.