On Thursday, leaders and academics from across the globe will gather for the World Economic Forum in Switzerland – but all eyes will be on one man, Prince Andrew. The Duke of York is set to make his first public appearance since Buckingham Palace denied sex claims made against him. He is hosting his annual British business reception in Davos.
According to reports, the Prince is considering whether to address the subject during his scheduled speech at the global gathering.
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Prince Andrew is 'considering' addressing the scandal at the World Economic Forum
It is thought that he has been advised to go ahead and confront the issue – vehemently and repeatedly denied by Buckingham Palace – in a bid to lay them to rest at the summit.
Any reference he does make to the scandal is expected to be brief, and will simply underline his previous denials. Nevertheless, it would be an unprecedented move for a member of the royal family.
Prince Andrew was on a family holiday in Verbier when news of the story broke at the start of the year. He was alleged to have had sexual contact with Virginia Roberts when she was 17 – a minor under US law.
"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts," Buckingham Place said in a formal statement. "Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."
Sarah Ferguson has spoken out to publicly defend her ex-husband
It followed two earlier statement issued by the Palace, which contained further denials that Prince Andrew engaged in any "impropriety with underage minors".
After the denials were issued, Sarah Ferguson spoke out in defence of her former husband during a recent TV interview.
Sarah described the claims made against Andrew as a "defamation of character" during an appearance on The Today Show. "I will not have one word said about him on any level, any level," she said of her ex-husband, whom she divorced in 1996.
"I want to stand by him, because I know what it feels like to have salacious lies made up about you," she said, adding that the Prince is "a great father and humongously good man".
"I won't stand by and let his character be defamed to this level."