Ghislaine Maxwell has explained from an American prison cell how she feels “so badly” for her “dear friend”, Prince Andrew.
In her first long interview since her sex trafficking conviction last year, Maxwell said she still cares about the Duke of York, who was stripped of his royal duties over his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Speaking to Israeli-American documentary filmmaker Daphne Barak, Maxwell said: “I feel so bad for him. I am what happens to him.”
According to the Sun on Sunday, which published the interview, Maxwell looked “shaken” when told that the prince’s lawyers had claimed the couple had never been close.
She replied, “I accept that this friendship could not survive my sentencing. He pays such a price for the association. I consider him a dear friend. I care about him.
The remarks will cause further embarrassment for Andrew as he has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the disgraced socialite.
Maxwell, 60, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June for procuring teenage girls for Epstein to abuse from 1994 to 2004. She continues to deny the charges.
Epstein was a financier whose elite associates once included the Duke of York and Bill Clinton. He was arrested in July 2019 for sex trafficking and killed himself in a New York prison just over a month after his detention.
Barak has interviewed Maxwell twice from prison for an upcoming CBS-Paramount Plus documentary.
She was asked if she and Andrew could be friends after his prison sentence and she replied: “I have no expectations. People I’ve been friends with and been very close to… I can’t think of what they will want to do or not do.
The media heiress, whose father was former Mirror Group owner Robert Maxwell, also spoke about the infamous photo of Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, with her back -plan.
Maxwell said she now believes the image was not “a true picture”, having appeared earlier to verify it. In an email to her attorney in 2015 that was later leaked, she wrote, “It looks real. I think it is.”
The photo, which was posted around the world, had been at the heart of Giuffre’s sexual assault trial against the prince. The civil case was settled in February after paying a financial settlement, estimated at several million pounds, to his accuser.
From his prison in Florida, Maxwell told his interviewer, “I don’t recognize this photo and I don’t believe it’s a real photo.”
She then claimed that her email apparently authenticating the photo was actually just to confirm that she recognized her own home: ‘I said ‘it’s that picture that whatever it is I recognize as my home”.
“But I have come to discover this image that I don’t believe to be true. And the original was never produced because it doesn’t exist. I don’t believe this image to be a true image.