The British royal family has been dragged once again into the Jeffrey Epstein scandal as a photograph emerged showing the late financier’s alleged accomplice posing on a throne at Buckingham Palace.
The image of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell sitting alongside “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey, who has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct, apparently at the Queen’s London residence in 2002, was published by the UK-based Daily Telegraph newspaper on Saturday.
CNN could not confirm why Maxwell and Spacey were at the palace. The paper reported the pair had been invited into the throne room by Prince Andrew, who has come under public pressure to explain his relationship with Epstein and allegations by one of his accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Giuffre has alleged that she was forced into sexual encounters with the prince and other men while she was underage. They all have denied the allegations.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the photograph. A spokesperson for Prince Andrew also declined to comment.
Prince Andrew was a friend of Epstein and has been photographed with Giuffre and Maxwell in the past. In a November BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he had never met Giuffre and suggested that the photo of him and Giuffre may have been doctored.
Spacey’s career collapsed in November 2017 following several allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Charges against him in the US were dropped last July, and he denies most of the claims.
CNN’s royal correspondent Max Foster said that the throne represents a symbol of a monarch’s authority, and “no one else has the right to sit in it. That would be seen as a sign of disrespect towards Queen and country.”
Sitting on the throne at Buckingham Palace is seen as less of an insult than being on the “senior throne” at nearby St. James’s Palace, he said. No one apart from the monarch has ever sat in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey in modern times, as far as anyone knows.
Maxwell, the onetime girlfriend and alleged accomplice of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday morning and charged by federal prosecutors in New York for her alleged role in recruiting, grooming and sexually abusing underage girls as young as 14 as part of a years-long criminal enterprise.
Maxwell, 58, and Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in August while awaiting trial are accused of luring the girls to an array of residences, including his Upper East Side mansion, his Palm Beach estate, and his sprawling Santa Fe ranch, as well as London, England, where she has a home.
A US attorney has since urged Prince Andrew, who was a friend of Epstein, to provide information to the investigation. Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a press conference that authorities would “welcome” a statement from the Duke, who is Queen Elizabeth’s second son.
In response, a source close to Andrew said: “The Duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month, and to date, we have had no response.”
On Saturday, a friend of Maxwell told the BBC that the socialite would “never” pass on information about the royal in the Epstein investigation.
Former investment banker Laura Goldman, who said she knew Maxwell after she moved to the United States, said she would “have to” go for a plea deal with prosecutors.
Asked on Radio 4’s Today program if Maxwell would speak about the duke as part of the investigation, Goldman said: “She has always told me she would never, ever say anything about him.
“I think she felt he was her friend and she was never going to say anything about him.”
CNN’s Erica Orden, Kara Scannell, Max Foster and Samantha Beech contributed to this report.