Prince Andrew grinned this morning as he headed to church with the Queen – while questions mount about his friendship with deceased paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York, 59, made his first appearance since Epstein’s death as he went to Crathie Church at Balmoral in Scotland this morning.
In an apparent show of solidarity, his mother and eldest daughter Princess Beatrice sat alongside him as they were driven to church.
It comes as the royal faces being dragged deeper into the scandal, with the FBI set to investigate Epstein’s associates.
Just hours before Epstein’s death, court documents were unsealed revealing new claims against Prince Andrew and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
The Duke of York, 59, has denied allegations that he had sex with one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, then aged 17, and groped a second woman at the wealthy financier’s home.
Johanna Sjoberg claims Andrew fondled her breast after she sat on his knee, according to documents related to Ms Giuffre’s defamation lawsuit against British socialite Ms Maxwell, 57.
Ms Maxwell, reported to be Epstein’s former girlfriend, is accused of procuring underage girls for him and has repeatedly denied involvement in his crimes.
Ms Giuffre, who was allegedly sitting beside them, has previously claimed she was forced to have sex with the royal in London in 2001.
The Duke of York was pictured with his arm around the then 17-year-old’s waist at Ms Maxwell’s London home in 2001.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace has said: “Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
Epstein, 66, died on Saturday in an apparent suicide in the New York jail cell.
He was being held without bail on sex trafficking charges.
The latest batch of documents to be unsealed level accusations against a number of rich and powerful men.
Ms Giuffre, now 36, claims Epstein and Maxwell forced her to have sex with an unnamed “prince”, a “foreign president” and the owner of “a French hotel chain”, among others.
She claims Epstein and Ms Maxwell groomed her to become a “sex slave”, and she had first met the British socialite while working at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in 2000.
The defamation lawsuit was settled out of court in 2017.
Following Epstein’s death, legal sources believe investigators will shift their “full attention” to Ms Maxwell. a mutual friend of Epstein and the Duke, the Mail on Sunday reported.
A source said: “Ghislaine is the key to all this now that Epstein will no longer face justice himself. The victims deserve answers and she was the person closest to Epstein.
“Far from being the end to Prince Andrew’s problems, Epstein’s suicide could put him under renewed scrutiny because of his close friendship with Ghislaine.”
Prosecutors in New York said the investigation into the charges in the indictment against Epstein would continue following his death.
The indictment did not name Ms Maxwell or the Duke of York, and neither has been charged with a crime.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers had sought to dismiss the defamation suit, claiming Ms Giuffre “produced no evidence substantiating any of her fantastical claims that she had been trafficked by Epstein, or by Maxwell, to any of these men or any others.
In his latest criminal case, Epstein was accused of arranging to have sex with dozens of underage girls at his residences in New York and Florida.
Following his arrest on July 6, he pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005.
Epstein was found unresponsive at the the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday morning and taken to a Manhattan hospital, where he was declared dead.
He was not on suicide watch at the time, it was reported.