Prince Andrew has flown back from a skiing holiday in Switzerland, 24 hours after Buckingham Palace "emphatically denied" claims that he had sexual contact with an underage woman. The Duke of York arrived back at his Royal Lodge home in Windsor Park on Monday after a family holiday in Verbier.
It has been reported that same day he was preparing to speak on the phone to his mother, the Queen, who remains in Norfolk at her Sandringham estate.
The Duke has returned home to Britain to hold talks with his legal team
The Prince was staying at a luxury ski lodge in Verbier with a party including his daughter Princess Eugenie and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson when news of the claims broke. On Sunday evening, he left for Britain to hold talks with the monarch, senior aides and his legal team.
Prince Andrew was named in court documents filed in Florida relating to how prosecutors handled the case against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein. The woman in the case has been identified by the press as Virginia Roberts, and she has alleged that she was forced to be intimate with the royal when she was 17 – a minor under US law.
After the claims, the Palace took the unprecedented step of issuing a formal statement.
"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts," Buckingham Palace said on Saturday evening. "Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."
The Prince was on a family holiday with his daughter Princess Eugenie when he was named in court documents in a case concerning Jeffrey Epstein
It followed two earlier statements issued by the Palace – on Friday and Saturday afternoon – which contained further denials that Prince Andrew engaged in any "impropriety with underage minors".
Andrew is expected to go ahead with his scheduled public engagement in Switzerland on 21 January, hosting a reception for foreign ministers on behalf of the British government.
"There is no suggestion that this will be changed or cancelled. He is pushing forward with his existing schedule," one senior royal aide told the Mail. Another added that the Prince felt "frustrated" but believed that the severity of the allegations left him "no option but to speak out".
"The Duke's integrity is of utmost importance to him and he felt that was being traduced," the aide said. "We are working in very extraordinary circumstances and the decision was that a line needed to be drawn in the sand."