Britain’s Prince Andrew is expected to offer his first public response this week to allegations that he slept with a teenage “sex slave” provided to him by a rich pedophile pal.
The Duke of York is moving forward with his annual reception for 300 business titans and politicians at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, the Times of London reported.
The party will be his first public appearance since a Florida woman accused him of having sex with her three times in London, the Virgin Islands and New York in 2001, while she was underage according to US law.
Virginia Roberts, now 30, claims the prince’s billionaire friend Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile, kept her as a “sex slave” and pimped her out to the royal for $15,000 when she was 17.
The World Economic Forum, an annual event for industry leaders, is usually closed to the press, but some cameras will be invited to record Prince Andrew’s speech, according to British media.
His speech will focus on his Pitch@Palace business initiative for young entrepreneurs.
Any mention of the scandal will be in vague terms and offer firm denials without naming his accuser or specifying the allegations, the paper reported.
It would be the first time a British royal addressed his or her private life since the late Princess Diana gave a candid television interview detailing her failed marriage to Prince Charles.
“This will hopefully be a chance for Prince Andrew to draw a line under the Epstein business and move on,” a friend of the duke was quoted by The Daily Mail on Sunday.
“He accepts that his judgment has been questioned in the coverage surrounding the lawsuits.”
Davos will also reveal just how much damage has been done to the duke’s reputation.
P.R. advisers to attendees have warned their clients to steer clear of the duke and avoid getting photographed with him, and several Parliament members have urged Prince Andrew to stay away the Times reported.
Recently leaked entries from Roberts’ diary chronicle in grim detail her alleged encounters with Prince Andrew.
In them, Roberts recalls with disgust how the royal, 24 years her senior, awkwardly danced himself to a sweat at a posh club, showered the teen with compliments about her “blossoming” figure and sucked on her toes before having sex with her.
Buckingham Palace has denied all allegations that connect the duke to Epstein’s alleged underage sex ring and dismissed reports that the duke might address the subject at Davos as “speculation.”