The Duchess of York has spoken out in defence of her former husband Prince Andrew following claims that he had sexual contact with an underage woman. Appearing in public for the first time since the allegations were made, Sarah Ferguson described the Prince as "the greatest man there is".
The Duchess was on a skiing holiday in Verbier, Switzerland with Andrew and their youngest daughter Eugenie when news of the claims broke. While Prince Andrew returned home on Monday, his ex-wife has remained at the luxury ski lodge, and declined to comment directly on the allegations when asked by the Daily Mail if she was sticking by her former husband.
"The York family is a tight unit. We’ve always been a tight unit. He is the greatest man there is. It was the finest moment of my life in 1986 when I married him. He is a great man, the best man in the world," she said.
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Sarah Ferguson described her former husband as "the greatest man there is"
Prince Andrew flew back from his skiing holiday on Sunday evening to hold talks with the monarch, senior aides and his legal team.
The Duke of York 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, Buckingham 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."
Prince Andrew returned home early from his skiing trip following the allegations
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.