Prince Andrew’s bold wedding move
Prince Andrew will reportedly walk Princess Beatrice down the aisle next year despite the ongoing scandal over his alleged sexual misconduct and links to billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York has faced growing criticism in recent months about his long friendship with the disgraced financier, who killed himself in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
There was speculation he would stay away from his 31-year-old daughter's impending nuptials - she is due to wed property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi next June - for fear of ruining her big day.
However, a source has told Entertainment Tonight the Duke will go ahead with plans to walk Bea down the aisle, despite reports he stayed away from his daughter's lavish engagement party this week for fear of overshadowing the celebrations due to the sordid scandal.
"They love him; he's family," the source said.
They added the Prince was "utterly devoted" to his daughters, and that everybody wants Beatrice - whose sister Eugene incidentally founded The Anti-Slavery Collective, a charity set-up to combat human trafficking - to "have the wedding she deserves".
Another source previously told Entertainment Tonight: "Everyone right now is concerned about Bea.
"Poor Bea. She deserves to have the wedding she wants and the public is going to go nuts (because of her father)."
THE SCANDAL THAT REFUSES TO GO AWAY
One of Epstein's former teen sex slaves, Virginia Giuffre, has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her at the behest of his alleged pimp, socialite and media mogul's daughter Ghislaine Maxwell.
Ms Giuffre, formerly Roberts, is one of several women suing Ms Maxwell, Epstein's estate and three unnamed staff members who they claim "enabled" the billionaire's sordid sex ring, which allegedly involved underage girls.
Prince Andrew stepped down from royal duties in November after an excruciating interview with the BBC's Newsnight in which he attempted to dismiss the accusations against him.
Ms Giuffre alleges she was just 17 when she spent a night dancing with the "sweaty" royal at London's Tramp nightclub in 2001 before retiring to Ms Maxwell's townhouse where he allegedly had sex with her.
Prince Andrew has strenuously denied all accusations against him, stated he had no memory of meeting Ms Giuffre and suggested the infamous photo of the pair at Ms Maxwell's home - where the Duke's arm is wrapped around the then 17-year-old - could have been doctored.
During a "trainwreck" interview with BBC journalist Emily Maitlis, which the royal had hoped would put the scandal to rest, the Duke instead further fanned the flames by offering up a series of bizarre alibis and explanations.
They included claims he suffered from a medical condition resulting from the Falklands War which made it virtually impossible for him to sweat in 2001 and that on the night in question, he had taken his daughter to a Pizza Express in Woking.
Prince Andrew's friendship with US billionaire Epstein began at some point in the 1990s, when the two were introduced by Epstein's then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, a long-time friend of the Prince.
Epstein was arrested in July of this year on federal charges of sex trafficking minors, and in 2008 was sentenced to 13 months for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.
Despite the conviction, Prince Andrew was pictured in Epstein's New York home and walking with him through Central Park in 2010.
In 2015, American woman Virginia Giuffre, who is now 35 and living in Australia, came forward to allege that Epstein and Maxwell had trafficked her to have sex with several people, including Prince Andrew, when she was a teenager.
Both the Duke and Ms Maxwell strenuously deny any wrongdoing.