Andrew met American financier Jeffrey Epstein in 1999 through Maxwell—and their transactional friendship ran both ways.
On Andrew’s side, hanging out with Maxwell and Epstein—who owned the biggest private residence in Manhattan, had his own island and traveled by private jet—made the Duke of York feel like the big shot he thought he was, according to Brown, Kirwan-Taylor and Majesty editor Seward. Maxwell and Epstein (a onetime couple turned partners in crime) offered Andrew access to celebrities, glitzy parties and five-star accommodations, while he, in turn, invited them into his royal world.
In 1999 and 2000, Epstein and Maxwell were guests at a Balmoral getaway, Andrew’s 40th birthday party at Windsor Castle and a shooting weekend at Sandringham—”prime invitations,” Brown said—plus they attended Royal Ascot.
Though a “valuable relationship” for Epstein, Brown said, it “wasn’t so much about money. The royal connection was really about status.”
As for Andrew, the author said, socializing with Epstein made him feel “like he was part of the big-time at last, which he never felt when he was in England.”
The prince told Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis in 2019 that it would be “a considerable stretch” to call Epstein “a very, very close friend. But he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together, and that’s the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations. I mean it was a cosmopolitan group of what I would describe as U.S. eminence.”