On Monday evening, BBC Panorama gave a valuable opportunity to Virginia Giuffre to bravely recall her story. Virginia Giuffre, 36, previously known as Virginia Roberts, prior to her marriage to Robert Giuffre, has pressed allegations that she was a victim of Jeffery Epstein’s and Prince Andrew’s abuse as a teenager.
Ms. Giuffre was a locker room attendant when she was approached by Ghislaine Maxwell to train as a massage therapist. When interviewing, she allegedly found Epstein naked on the massage table, where Ms. Maxwell gave her ‘massage training.’
Last night within the BBC Panorama documentary, Giuffre claimed that within this connection to Epstein, she met Prince Andrew who she was then ordered to “do for him (Prince Andrew) what she has done for Jeffrey” after a night out in ‘Tramp’s’ nightclub. These actions for Virginia Giuffre to engage in sexual acts with the Duke were orders made by Ghislaine Maxwell; socialite and close friend of Epstein, who was described by Giuffre as “The nuts and bolts of it all.” Giuffre claimed in the documentary that Maxwell had reassured Giuffre that she had “done a good job” after allegedly having sex with the Duke. Prince Andrew has since claimed that he was at “Pizza Express in Woking with the children” on the night that these events allegedly took place.
Despite claims by Prince Andrew in his interview for BBC News night that he had “no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts [Giuffre]” Panorama later unveiled an email from the Duke of York to Ghislaine Maxwell where he allegedly asked for her help in regards to some “specific questions about Virginia Roberts [Giuffre].” To which Ghislaine responded “Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.” These emails were claimed to have been passed during the original allegations by Giuffre in 2015.
Evidence to the Metropolitan police was initially provided by Giuffre in 2011 and was squashed by Scotland yard. Later, in 2015 the photograph of Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts was provided. Prince Andrews response to this image was the suggestion that it was “a photo of a photo of a photo” and that therefore, there was no evidence that the image has not been edited, to which Giuffre responded “If it was not a real photograph, he would have said in 2015 that it was not real when it was released.” Buckingham Palace has since responded to say that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue and emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact with Virginia Roberts [Giuffre].”
It is incredibly important that in the light of these allegations, we don’t lose sight of the key feature here, the victims. While it’s not difficult to suggest that the Prince Andrew interview was questionable in the perspective of PR, it is far more important to highlight the wasted opportunity that was given to the Duke of York to express his disturbance and support for survivors of abuse. When given the opportunity to “add any further comments” in his BBC Newsnight interview, the fixation for the Duke lay selfishly in the effect that these claims have had on him, and how “her allegations have created a crisis for the royal family.” One of the exact issues that align with the #metoo campaigns, big names surface, but the money and power aligns the reporting more in focal with the protagonists, not the victims. These victims suffer under the fear of the repercussions imposed by their perpetrators power, money and status upholds over the victim’s career, family name and the backlash they could fall target to in a social media climate. Powerful people and institutions enabling, or turning their heads from victims, is the backdrop to so many #MeToo stories.
Virginia Giuffre’s Father revealed in his Good Morning Britain interview today that he has “no doubt” that his daughter is telling the truth and Roberts praised his daughters “bravery” for having the courage to speak out.
Prince Andrew’s friendship and actions with a prolific sex offender are what have lead to the “crisis for the royal family” and the blame should not be passed to the young girls who lay victim within this. From this documentary, it can be highlighted that “No one is above the law not the president of the United States not the Prince” as stated by Giuffre’s lawyer within the Panorama documentary. Prince Andrew has since stated that he “now regrets his ill-judged association with Epstein” but has since said that he “deeply sympathises with those affected who want some form of closure.”
The legacy and bravery of Virginia Giuffre, to trust in the support of the system, against a stronger power, must be upheld as an import moment within society. Regardless of individual opinion on Prince Andrew, Giuffre has undoubtedly opened doors and changed history within the #metoo movement and the narration of allegations from victims of abuse. Her bravery has surfaced from the alleged darkness of unfathomable trauma, from advantage taken by power and wealth, as stated by Giuffre “I hadn’t been chained to a kitchen sink, but these powerful people were my chains.” It is important that leading from this scandal, society continues to do a greater job of listening to and believing the stories of survivors.
Watch Virginia Giuffre’s BBC interview here.