PRINCE Andrew says he first met Ghislaine Maxwell when he was at university – but it became a friendship that plunged into scandal for the Duke.

Ghislaine today faces court accused of being instrumental in a sex trafficking scheme helmed by disgraced multimillionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

It has previously been reported that the Royal – often dubbed The Queen's "favourite" son – is "dreading" the fact his name may be mentioned during the case.

Ghislaine and Andrew are believed to have known each other for the better part of two decades before she is alleged to have introduced him to Epstein.

She and the American financier are believed to have been dating at the time – and the Duke is believed to have subsequently struck up a friendship with Epstein.

It was a relationship that allegedly saw him make multiple visits to Epstein's homes and his private island, Little Saint James.

And during this pally period, Epstein and Ghislaine are said to have introduced the Royal to the then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts.

She claims she was trafficked to have sex with Andrew.

Andrew vehemently denies all allegations against him – but finds himself in the spotlight again as his old friend Ghislaine faces six charges today at a court in Manhattan.

During his infamous car crash interview on BBC Newsnight with Emily Maitlis – the Prince dropped a few key hints about his friendship with Ghislaine.

He explained he met Epstein through his "girlfriend" – Maxwell – who he had known "since she was at university in the UK".

The Duke laid out how his relationship with the paedophile was always through the prism of Ghislaine, the daughter of newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell.

Events which Epstein and Maxwell attended – such as at Windsor Castle – were normally arranged through her, with him as the plus one.

And he did not comment on Maxwell's own alleged involvement in Epstein's trafficking scheme.

"If there are questions that Ghislaine has to answer, that's her problem I'm afraid, I'm not in a position to be able to comment one way or the other," he said.

Andrew did however admit to speaking her as late as 2019, but said they did not discuss Epstein.

"There wasn't anything to discuss about him because he wasn't in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on," he said.

They spoke just before Epstein was arrested and subsequently committed suicide, which led to Maxwell going into hiding before her own arrest by the FBI in 2020.

Andrew also said that because of his relationship with Ghislaine it would have been "inevitable" that he met with Epstein at some point.

Ghislaine and Andrew's friendship is reported to have become more prominent in the early noughties – with him first being spotted with her and Epstein at a tennis tournament at Donald Trump's resort Mar-a-Lago in February 2000.

Vanity Fair reports that friends claim Andrew changed his lifestyle as he became closer to Maxwell.

"Andrew’s a very poor judge of character, easily impressed," a source was reported to have said in the Evening Standard.

"He’s gone from this couch potato to man about town, with nothing better to do than go from one holiday to the next."

It was reported the duo were together at least eight times in the year 2000 – and were seen a various nightspots in London.

Andrew, Epstein, and Maxwell – along with Donald and his then girlfriend Melania – were pictured together in one striking image at Mar-a-Lago in December 2000.

The Prince appears to be walking away, Trump and his wife smile for the camera, with Epstein visible in the background, and Ghislaine off to the side speaking to a woman in a white dress.

Pictures from this period capture the fact Andrew appears to have become firm friends with Ghislaine.

The two were pictured together at the wedding of Aurelia Cecil and Rupert Stephenson at St Michaels and All Angels Church in Compton Chamberlayne in Wiltshire in September 2000.

Andrew was pictured walking alongside Ghislaine at Royal Ascot's famous Ladies Day in June.

Pictures from February 2000 show Andrew seemingly in conversation with Epstein at Mar-a-Lago.

Other images from the same event showing Ghislaine also was present as she posed along with Epstein and the Trumps.

Andrew was also snapped in October 2000 as a "pimps and hookers" themed bash in New York as he partied with Ghislaine and Heidi Klum.

Maxwell can be seen standing with the Prince as she wears a blonde wig and a leopard skin dress.

And in that December, Epstein and Maxwell were also pictured on a pheasant shoot which was also attended by Andrew at the Sandringham Estate.

Maxwell was also pictured frollicking on a throne at Buckingham Palace alongside Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey in 2002 after being invited by Prince Andrew.

And meanwhile four years later in 2006, just before he was first publicly accused of sex crimes, Epstein and Maxwell were pictured at Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday bash.

Alongside them was pervert film mogul Harvey Weinstein as they beamed together at Windsor Castle.

And the most infamous picture detailing a link between Andrew and Ghislaine was taken at her London townhouse in 2002.

It shows the Duke with his arm around Virginia Roberts while the socialite smiles in the background – the pic was allegedly taken by Epstein.

Andrew has since suggested the photo is fake.

On Newsnight, he said: "I don't remember, I don't remember that photograph ever being taken.

"I don't remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs and I am not entirely convinced that… I mean that is… that is what I would describe as me in that… in that picture but I can't… we can't be certain as to whether or not that's my hand on her whatever it is, left… left side."

He added: "Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored but I don't recollect that photograph ever being taken."

It was allegedly taken that night that Andrew had sex with the 17-year-old Virginia – an allegation he strongly denies.

Andrew claims that night he was actually at a Pizza Express in Woking.

Virginia is one of Epstein and Maxwell's most high profile accusers, but is not one of the four over whom Ghislaine faces charges.

She does however have a seperate civil lawsuit currently being brought against Andrew.

Documents released last year also suggested Andrew contacted Ghislaine in 2015 to ask about Virginia, saying he had "some specific questions to ask".

Maxwell claimed the two had a conversation in which they both branded her a "liar".

Ghislaine has also been pictured with Andrew's ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, with the pair snapped together at an even in December 2003.

It is expected some of the questions surrounding Andrew's links to Epstein and Maxwell may come under the spotlight during the court case.

Maxwell faces allegations that she procured girls for Epstein while also participating in the abuse herself on a number of occasions.

Her alleged victims have described her as a the paedo’s “madam” who would groom them and lure them into his web of money and sex.

She has been accused of being tasked with approaching teenage girls with offers of jobs – such as modelling or as masseurs – before bringing them to Epstein.

Prosecutors allege she and Epstein exploited girls as young as 14.

Maxwell’s lawyers deny all charges against her and will attempt to argue her relationship with Epstein has been overstated.

Prince Andrew's team declined to comment on the case or his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell when contacted by The Sun Online.

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