Prince Andrew ‘will not push for royal return as he’s sensitive to public mood’

Prince Andrew will not push for a return to frontline royal duties while the Jeffrey Epstein legal saga is ongoing – as he is “sensitive to the public mood”.

A source close to the Duke of York said that his future role will only be resolved once the legal process has concluded.

Andrew faces questions over his relationship with the late paedophile financier who is alleged to have trafficked sex slaves.

These include claims by Virginia Giuffre that she was made by Epstein to have sex with the Duke.

The Duke, who stepped back from royal duties after a disastrous BBC interview on the claims in 2019, strongly denies any wrongdoing.

Last year it was reported that he was keen to return to a frontline role – but he now accepts this is unlikely, it is claimed.

The source said: “The Duke’s future role is only likely to seriously considered once the legal process has been resolved and the Duke’s side of the story properly explained.

“Until then, the Duke is sensitive to the public mood and to the fact that the institution must come first.”

Last month the Queen was reported to have created a new “team of eight” royals who would carry out royal engagements – with Andrew left in the cold.

US prosecutors are keen to speak to the Duke of York following the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, who is awaiting trail on child sex offences.

US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman claimed Andrew has “repeatedly declined” to be interviewed, despite fresh calls to do so following Maxwell’s arrest in July.

He is reportedly prepared to give a written statement, but has not agreed to be interviewed face-to-face.

The Duke’s representatives have declined to comment, saying: “We cannot comment on the legal process as any communications would be covered by the DOJ’s own confidentiality rules, which we have always observed.”

Andrew’s representatives also declined to shed light on whether the public is paying for his legal and PR representation, saying: “I’m afraid we would never comment on the contractual terms of the working group.”

The royal has previously dismissed the allegation by Ms Giuffre, who claimed she had sex with him at Maxwell’s London home in 2001.

In a car-crash interview with the BBC, he claimed Ms Giuffre’s story couldn’t be true because he was at a birthday party with his daughter Beatrice on March 10, 2001.

Ms Giuffre – who was 17 at the time – alleges that she partied with the Duke of York at West End nightclub Tramp that night, before they went back to Ms Maxwell’s home.

A photo, which is thought to have been taken at around the same time, shows Andrew with his arms around Ms Giuffre, whose name was Virginia Roberts in 2001.

In heartbreaking testimony she says she was pressured into having sex with pals of paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of Andrew’s.

At the time, British socialite Maxwell – who is currently facing trial in the US in connection with her role in the scandal – was Epstein’s girlfriend.

During the weekend in question, Andrew reportedly had one police protection officer on duty.

The Mirror has previously requested to see details of the Duke’s security team’s movements under the Freedom of Information Act, but the Metropolitan Police refused to release it.

Ms Giuffre claims she had sex with the Duke on three occasions – once in London, once in New York and in the Caribbean.

Denying the London allegation, Andrew said he had taken Beatrice – then 12, five years younger than his accuser – to a Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey, for a party.

Challenged by BBC Newsnight interviewer Emily Maitlis how he remembered so precisely, he responded: “Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do.

“I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.

“As soon as someone reminded me of it, I went: ‘Oh yes, I remember that.'”