Prince Andrew’s sex slave alibi falls apart: Explosive dossier blows hole in ‘Pizza Express’ excuse

Prince Andrew‘s Pizza Express ‘alibi’ is in tatters following a bombshell Daily Mail investigation.

In the first instalment of an exclusive four-part series we can reveal astonishing details about the day he is alleged to have slept with his teenage sex accuser Virginia Roberts.

She says she was trafficked to London by the prince’s paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein when she was just 17. Our investigation into the events of March 10, 2001, can disclose that:

  • Princess Beatrice has ‘absolutely no recollection’ of the Pizza Express birthday party her father has claimed to have attended;
  • The family who hosted the party confirmed Beatrice came but cannot recall what happened and whether the prince was there;
  • According to a family diary, the Duke of York had booked a home manicure on the afternoon he says he dropped Beatrice, then aged 12, at the party in Woking, Surrey;
  • Sources said the prince had a ‘very vague’ recollection of waiting under a bridge near Pizza Express to collect his daughter;
  • A royal protection officer said to have been on duty that weekend, and who could possibly support his alibi, has died;
  • Housekeepers on duty at the prince’s home – Sunninghill Park, Ascot – ‘can’t remember’ his movements on the weekend in question;
  • Concerns also emerged over the accuracy of Miss Roberts’ claim that she went clubbing in London with Andrew that evening and over her description of a bath tub in which she says they had sex;
  • An exclusive through-the-keyhole view shows the bathroom in Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house in Belgravia;
  • The Duchess of York was in the United States promoting chinaware to pay off her huge personal debts when Andrew is alleged to have bedded Miss Roberts.
Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, March 13 2001

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, March 13 2001

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, March 13 2001

Our devastating revelations follow an investigation that has seen us obtain testimony from new witnesses, see sensitive documents, learn the contents of diaries and interview high-level sources.

Our inquiries have taken us from London to New York, Boston, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, South Africa and Australia.

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George's, Ascot, September 6, 2000

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George's, Ascot, September 6, 2000

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George’s, Ascot, September 6, 2000

The series will also examine the precision of some of Miss Roberts’ sensational allegations against the duke, which have dogged him for nearly ten years since the Mail on Sunday published a picture of the pair together.

It was allegedly taken in British socialite Miss Maxwell’s home on March 10, 2001.

In a car crash interview with the BBC, the Queen’s second son rejected allegations made by Miss Roberts that they danced together at celebrity night spot Tramp in central London before having sex.

His American accuser alleges they had sex three times in all – firstly in London, then in New York and finally in the Caribbean.

Andrew vehemently denies her claims.

The prince’s extraordinary Pizza Express alibi prompted ridicule around the world last November.

In the interview with Emily Maitlis of Newsnight, Andrew denied having sex with Miss Roberts at Miss Maxwell’s home.

He said it could not have happened because he spent the day with his daughter.

‘I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon,’ he said. When asked why he would remember a meal at Pizza Express 18 years later, he said: ‘Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do … I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.

‘As soon as somebody reminded me of it, I went, ‘Oh yes, I remember that’.’

In June it was claimed that the prince was in a ‘Mexican standoff’ with US prosecutors.

He was said to be ‘utterly bewildered’ after he was accused of refusing to be interviewed by the Epstein investigators.

Friends said they were mystified by claims Andrew refused to cooperate with the probe – yet stopped short of denying it was true.

Princess Beatrice has 'absolutely no recollection' of the Pizza Express birthday party her father has claimed to have attended at Pizza Express, Woking (pictured)

Princess Beatrice has 'absolutely no recollection' of the Pizza Express birthday party her father has claimed to have attended at Pizza Express, Woking (pictured)

Princess Beatrice has ‘absolutely no recollection’ of the Pizza Express birthday party her father has claimed to have attended at Pizza Express, Woking (pictured)

US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman said the prince had ‘repeatedly declined’ a request to be interviewed and had ‘unequivocally’ stated he would not come in for one. But Andrew’s London lawyers say he offered to provide a statement.

The prince appeared to be at loggerheads with the Americans because they wanted a face-to-face interview, whereas he wanted to provide evidence in writing.

In July the prosecutors urged Andrew to ‘talk to us’ after the FBI arrested Miss Maxwell on child sex charges.

Their call came after they pounced on the British socialite in a dawn raid on her hideaway in New Hampshire. Hours later she appeared in court charged with the sordid abuse of girls as young as 14, including one in London. Last night the US Department of Justice declined to answers a series of questions from the Daily Mail.

Duke of York, speaking about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis

Duke of York, speaking about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis

Duke of York, speaking about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis

These included whether it had reached agreement with Prince Andrew’s legal team over the terms of taking testimony from him and whether it had obtained the original – rather than a copy – of the widely publicised picture purporting to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Miss Roberts. The Mail also asked representatives of Andrew a series of questions about the London allegations made by Miss Roberts.

A spokesman for the duke said: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment on any of these matters.’ A friend said: ‘The duke has already publicly stated he has no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts. Nor has he any recollection of dining in a Chinese restaurant or attending Tramp on the night in question.

‘It is also well known amongst the duke’s circle of friends and his staff that he has been teetotal his entire adult life.’

A source close to the duke added: ‘In the Buckingham Palace statement made on 19th August 2019 the Duke expressed deep concern for the survivors of Jeffrey Epstein and hoped that they could find some resolution.

‘It is a matter of deep regret to the Duke that he did not reiterate that empathy for the survivors during his Newsnight interview, which was clearly a mistake.’

Miss Roberts’ representatives in New York did not respond to repeated requests to comment on a series of questions from the Mail. 

Inside the house where Virginia Roberts and Prince Andrew had ‘sex in the bath’ – so is the tub REALLY too small for two people to fit like Ghislaine Maxwell claims?

  • Virginia Roberts recalled how she ‘led (the Duke)’ into bathroom of Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house
  • After Miss Roberts claimed to have had sex with Prince Andrew in the bath Maxwell said: ‘The tub is too small’ 
  • It is the bathroom and, in particular, the bath and its dimensions, that has been the focus of legal interest 
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Four doors opened onto the first-floor landing of Ghislaine Maxwell‘s London pied-a-terre. Viewed from the top of the stairs to the ground floor, the door on the right led into a master bedroom.

That is where Epstein and Maxwell slept together that Saturday night, a source claims. The door on the left (against which the Duke and Miss Roberts are seen in the photograph) led to the study-cum-second bedroom. That was Miss Roberts’s room.

Directly opposite the top of the stairs were two further doors; an airing cupboard and the entrance to the bathroom. The latter was ‘where I led (the Duke)’, Miss Roberts recalled in the manuscript of her memoir. ‘It was a beige marble tiled floor with porcelain Victorian-style bathtub in the middle of the room and nowhere near the size of Jeffrey’s residences.’

Compact: The layout of Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house, showing the cramped bathroom, and Andrew in the house with Virginia Roberts and Maxwell

Compact: The layout of Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house, showing the cramped bathroom, and Andrew in the house with Virginia Roberts and Maxwell

Compact: The layout of Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house, showing the cramped bathroom, and Andrew in the house with Virginia Roberts and Maxwell

She wrote: ‘I turned on the taps for the tub and the heat from the water began to steam up the small room . . . Trying to do the best of my youthfulness to try and act seductive, I gradually began to strip off my clothing, piece by piece . . . He loved every second of it as I went over to where he was waiting and watching, then began to undress him . . . We kissed and touched each other before submersing into the hot water, where we both continued to re-enact foreplay. He was adorning (sic) my young body, particularly my feet . . . It wasn’t hard to get him wound up to the point where he just wanted to have the rest of me.’

The explosive conclusion to this encounter took place in her ‘bedchamber’, she said. But it is the bathroom and, in particular, the bath and its dimensions, that has been the focus of legal interest.

Under oath during Miss Roberts’ defamation action against her, Maxwell said: ‘The tub is too small for any type of activity whatsoever.’

In his book Relentless Pursuit, Miss Roberts’ lawyer Brad Edwards wrote that the bath was discussed when he met Epstein in a Starbucks in Boca Raton, Florida, in 2015. The tycoon had contacted him out of the blue.

He claimed that Epstein had said to him: ‘If I could show you how small Ghislaine’s tub was in that apartment, it would be tough for two people to fit in there.’

Edwards said he dismissed the comment, suggesting it was a weak legal point to force. But other lawyers have tried. Are trying.

The Mail understands that Miss Roberts’ legal team has not had access to the disputed bathroom. But two members of Maxwell’s legal team — she still owns the property — have climbed into the bath together, fully clothed, to test the physical possibility of an assignation such as that described in Miss Roberts’ account.

They claimed not to be persuaded, a source said.

Ghislaine Maxwell's mews house in Belgravia, where Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell were pictured

Ghislaine Maxwell's mews house in Belgravia, where Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell were pictured

Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house in Belgravia, where Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell were pictured

BATH CRAMMED INTO AN ALCOVE

So the Mail conducted our own inquiries. We have found a floorplan of the bathroom, taken from a 1987 planning application. We have also had access to much more recent images of the room.

There are two observations. One is that the bathroom is indeed ‘small’, as both sides agree; cramped, if one wished to perform anything other than solo ablutions.

The second? There is not a free-standing Victorian bath tub in the middle of the room, as described by Miss Roberts, in either iteration of the bathroom designs.

The historic plan shows a ‘standard size’ — 5ft 6in by 2ft 4in — alcove bath, boxed in on two sides by walls and on a third by the back of the airing cupboard.

The remaining 36 sq ft is largely taken up by a bidet, a lavatory and large sink. It is very bijou.

The recent images show almost the same layout. A sink still faces the door, a shower stall has replaced the bidet on the left, next to a lavatory. An alcove bath is on the right.

We have also received testimony from an old acquaintance of Maxwell’s who said: ‘I have visited the property on several occasions over the years. Even by the standards of a small mews house, the bathroom would be described as compact. There is no more than a couple of inches between the lavatory, sink and bath . . . to manoeuvre.’

She said that others who had regularly visited the property over the past two decades all agreed that ‘no changes have taken place to (the bathroom’s) essential layout.’

THE DEAD ‘KEY WITNESS’

Aside from his own poor memory, the Duke’s fundamental problem in proving his innocence of the March 10 allegations is this: of the four sources who should be best able to provide an alternative eyewitness account of that evening, one — Epstein — was a convicted paedophile who has since committed suicide, while another — Maxwell — is on remand in a U.S. prison facing charges of perjury and assisting the tycoon in sex-trafficking, charges that she denies.

But what of the Duke’s duty police bodyguards for that night? It was their job not only to observe the Duke’s movements, but to log them for the official record.

Sources close to the Duke say it has been difficult to identify the relevant personal protection officers (PPOs) from 2001. This has been blamed variously on ‘chaotic Met Police records’ and the events taking place so long ago, in what was still, largely, an analogue era.

But a ‘breakthrough’ of sorts has been achieved. When he was at home at Sunninghill Park on a weekend evening, the Duke was protected by one rather than two PPOs, sources claim.

They say the relevant PPO has now been identified. The Mail has been given a name. It has also been confirmed to us by a former senior colleague that this officer has since died. If so, he has taken the Duke’s alibi to the grave — if such an alibi would have been provided.

The fourth first-hand eyewitnesses that night were the domestic staff at Sunninghill.

Through intermediaries, the Mail was told by the duty housekeeper: ‘I worked at Sunninghill Park the weekend of March 10, 2001, with (name withheld) as butler.

‘My duties were housekeeping and help with the Princesses as required. The Duchess and Duke had a rule that one parent was present if the other had to be away. (The butler) and I both helped. I went home after the children’s baths, (the butler) catch (sic) a train to London. The nanny would return for duty on Mon morn’.

But, crucially, the housekeeper cannot remember whether this bath night took place on the Saturday (the evening in question) or Sunday — or whether the Duke was home on both nights.

After all, it was a long time ago, she said. Indeed it was. But the fact is that the Duke of York has faced these specific allegations for almost a decade now.

His only defence against Miss Roberts’ detailed accusations remains blunt denial. He has not been able to offer up a credible and corroborated alternative narrative. There has also been a corporate loss of memory as far as those around him are concerned. One is minded of his horribly complacent remark at the end of his Newsnight interview. ‘I think you’ve dragged out of me most of what is required,’ he said.

That is simply not the case. And in Part Two of this series on Monday, the Mail will fill in more of the holes in the royal narrative — including a confession that explodes another of his Newsnight claims altogether.  

Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts: the explosive dossier: The Mail has spent months investigating Virginia Roberts’ claims she slept with Prince Andrew three times. The results are troubling and deeply revealing…

  • The morning of March 10, 2001, St Swithun’s in Winchester, played lacrosse against St George’s School, Ascot
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, elder daughter of the Duke of York, was among the opponents
  • In London that evening Andrew is said to have been introduced to American called Virginia Roberts, then 17
  • Virginia Roberts was almost five years older than Beatrice, but unlike Princess her childhood was unprivileged
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A blustery, wet Saturday morning and St Swithun’s, a girls’ public school in Winchester, is about to host a lacrosse fixture against St George’s School, Ascot.

It is always a keenly fought affair. But there is a heightened anticipation in the home changing rooms on that morning of March 10, 2001. Among the Swithunites’ opponents in a junior match will be a genuine VVIP: she is Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, elder daughter of the Duke of York. The Queen’s granddaughter, no less.

The result of this clash has been lost in the mists of time. It is no longer of any consequence. But the same cannot be said of other events involving the York household as that Saturday unfolded.

For this was the ‘day of days’ as far as the Duke’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein paedophile scandal is concerned. In London early that evening Andrew is said to have been introduced to a 17-year-old American called Virginia Roberts.

Miss Roberts was less than five years older than Beatrice. But unlike the Princess, her childhood had not been one of great privilege; rather she suffered sex abuse, homelessness and drug problems before being recruited by the Wall Street billionaire as his personal ‘masseuse’ and ultimately became one of his groomed ‘sex-slaves’.

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George's, Ascot, September 6, 2000

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George's, Ascot, September 6, 2000

Princess Beatrice with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York, starting at her new school St George’s, Ascot, September 6, 2000

That evening, she says, she and Andrew danced together at Tramp nightclub. She claims they then returned to the Belgravia home of Andrew’s old friend and Epstein’s then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, where HRH put his arm around the teenager’s bare midriff to pose for that photograph.

‘Foreplay’ in the bathroom led to royal ‘ecstasy’ in an adjoining bedroom.

In short, the ruin that is the Duke’s reputation, his banishment from public life and the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing desire to question him about his part in the Epstein affair, can be traced back to Saturday, March 10, 2001.

The Duke emphatically denies having had sexual relations with Miss Roberts or any minor. He has said he cannot recall ever having met her, not least in an infamous interview last year with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Miss Roberts was a victim of Epstein. She distressingly recounts how she was groomed and pressured by him into having sex with numerous men, all of them strangers. One can only imagine what a devastating effect this would have had on a 17-year-old girl.

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, March 13 2001

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, March 13 2001

Prince Andrew (left), Virginia Roberts, aged 17, (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, March 13 2001

BUT WAS SHE ALSO A VICTIM OF THE DUKE?

Over a number of months the Mail has conducted a forensic investigation of her allegations against Andrew.

We have secured the testimonies of previously unheard eyewitnesses, found new top-level sources and confidential documents, and analysed thousands of legal exhibits from Epstein cases that have been released into the public domain.

The Mail has examined the as-yet unexplained variations and discrepancies within Miss Roberts’ various accounts.

MYSTERY OF HIS ROYAL MAN-ICURE 

Closer inspection of his fingernails (left) on March 10, 2001

Closer inspection of his fingernails (left) on March 10, 2001

Closer inspection of his fingernails (left) on March 10, 2001

It is a picture which has gone around the world millions of times and been subjected to enormous scrutiny.

But now there is a new twist in the iconic image of Prince Andrew smiling with his left arm around the waist of a young Virginia Roberts at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home.

As we reveal in our bombshell investigation, the Duke was booked to have a manicure at his Surrey home on the afternoon of March 10, 2001 — hours before he is said to have been pictured with Miss Roberts.

Closer inspection of his fingernails appears to suggest that if he did have beauty treatment that day, the manicurist — a woman called ‘Jeanne’ — did not file much away.

His fingernails appear to be quite long, not what some might expect after a manicure.

Miss Roberts maintains the photograph was taken when Epstein, Ms Maxwell and Andrew returned to Maxwell’s mews house after a visit to Tramp nightclub.

Last year, Andrew’s friends reportedly suggested the picture may have been doctored, particularly regarding his hands. However, Andrew has chubby fingers and in a shot taken of him at around the same time this indeed appears to be the case.

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Commenting on any inaccuracies, she has said: ‘You are left with a foggy memory sometimes, you really are,’ and: ‘I might be wrong on dates absolutely and I might be wrong on places even, sometimes.’

Given the awful trauma that she suffered at Epstein’s hands, this is entirely understandable. And what she alleges took place almost 20 years ago. Memories fade.

Nonetheless she has accused the Duke of having had three sexual encounters with her in 2001. Public opinion is against him and his protestations of innocence. At the heart of this hostility are the alleged events of March 10, 2001, and the infamous photograph which appears to corroborate her claims of intimacy between them.

Now, for the first time, the story of that day can be told up to the point where their two narratives collide.

FERGIE’S BRUNCH AND SCHOOL SPORTS

In his disastrous interview on BBC Newsnight last year, the Duke said of March 10, 2001, ‘The Duchess was away (and) we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other (parent) is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home’.

He was pressed on this by Maitlis: ‘So you’re absolutely sure that you were home on the 10th March?’

‘Yeah,’ he answered.

Before we examine the Duke’s recollection, let us confirm the whereabouts of the Duchess and the reason for her absence from Sunninghill Park (the couple’s much-derided, ranch-style mansion near Ascot).

The Mail has learned of the existence of a private document which appears to set out the Yorks’ expected schedule for that day.

It is in effect a household diary and the entries were purportedly handwritten by the Duchess sometime before March 10, 2001. It is not possible for the Mail to verify exactly when they were written. But, as we shall see, the diary’s existence today does offer an explanation for the provenance of one of the most remarked upon claims put forward by the Duke during his Newsnight interview.

The Duchess’s commitments in the diary are covered by the single cryptic entry ‘NY Brunch 11.’

The entry is a reference to a meeting which the Duchess was to undertake in Manhattan that morning, New York time.

Since her separation and divorce from the Duke, her lifestyle had seen her run up enormous personal debts, said to be as much as £4 million.

In an attempt to close this huge deficit, the Duchess had entered into a number of lucrative commercial partnerships, trading on her royal connection. Her attendance at that brunch on March 10 was part of her deal with the chinaware firm Wedgwood, which was paying her a salary of more than £500,000.

On March 7, she had been boosting the firm in Atlanta, Georgia. The Mail has located a contemporary flyer which shows that by March 9 the Duchess had moved on to the state of Virginia.

There she gave a presentation to 500 shoppers in the dress department of Hecht’s department store in the small but wealthy town of McLean (population 38,000).

The advertisement promised the Duchess would show ‘how she resists routine and bends the rules of home entertaining. With a dash of imagination she creates a memorable table’. She would also share ‘glimpses of her own private life’.

Afterwards she would autograph Wedgwood pieces in the women’s department. Attendees were advised seating should be reserved, along with purchases to be signed by the speaker.

Meanwhile, the Duchess was also appearing in a U.S. TV advertisement (another £400,000) for investment firm Schwab in which she talked to the ‘putative bride for a prince about the importance of understanding how money works.’

Someone else who certainly knew how money worked was Jeffrey Epstein, from whom the Duchess borrowed £15,000 to cover a debt.

So the Duchess was 3,000 miles from home, repairing her financial catastrophe. Back at Sunninghill Park — which he still shared with his ex-wife and daughters, then aged 12 and ten — the Duke was the sole parent in charge.

Sources say the girls’ weekday nanny had taken the Saturday and Sunday off, her supervisory role taken by a weekend housekeeper and butler. How would the day progress under the Duke’s direction?

‘B — lacrosse match vs St Swithun’s (away),’ says the first entry.

Then ‘E — netball trophy 10-12.’ Princess Eugenie was also in sporting action, though the entry does not say where. Nor can the diary confirm the Duke’s attendance at either event.

Whether he did cheer from the touchlines or not has no impact on Roberts’ own account of the day. But the narratives of accuser and accused were approaching the collision point.

NOISES OFF AND THAT PIZZA ‘ALIBI’

In the Newsnight interview, the Duke volunteered what he claimed to have been one of his (blameless) domestic tasks during the late afternoon of March 10.

‘I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party, at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon,’ he said.

‘Why would you remember that so specifically?’ asked Maitlis. ‘Why would you remember a Pizza Express birthday?’

‘Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do,’ he replied. ‘I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly. As soon as someone reminded me of it, I went: ‘Oh yes, I remember that.’ But I have no recollection of ever meeting or being in the company or the presence.’

The idea of ‘Air Miles Andy’ hanging out at a branch of Pizza Express in the M25 commuter town of Woking attracted scepticism, if not ridicule. So did the Duke’s lack of recall of any other detail about this occasion. It also failed to pass muster as an alibi for his denial of having been at Tramp in London that night.

But he had mentioned the episode only because someone had ‘reminded’ him. Presumably that someone had access to the same household diary described more recently to the Mail.

There are three entries in that document which apparently relate to the afternoon of March 10, 2001. The first reads ‘B — xxxxxx’s party @Ambassadors Theatre, Woking.’ Mail inquiries have found the party host, whose name we have redacted, was a girl at Beatrice’s school. The Ambassador Theatre Group owns the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. That Saturday the New Victoria was hosting a touring production of Michael Frayn’s classic backstage farce within a farce, Noises Off. Patricia Hodge was among the cast. Saturday matinees at the New Victoria usually begin at 2.30pm.

This is the exact time listed alongside the next entry in the diary. That entry is a single word: ‘Manicure.’

According to the diary, this beauty treatment was not booked for the Duchess or her daughters. The manicure was for ‘A’ — Andrew, the Duke himself. It was to be carried out by a woman called ‘Jeanne’, the entry says.

This clash in timings suggests that the Duke did not drop Beatrice at the theatre, which was more than ten miles from their home, if she was to make it there in time. In any case, the Princess had her own police bodyguard who would have accompanied her to the event.

What then of the Duke’s ‘weirdly’ distinct recall of his time in Woking that afternoon?

The third and final entry in the diary for that Saturday afternoon offers some explanation if not salvation. It says ‘Pizza Express’.

The Mail understands that the branch on Goldsworth Road, Woking is where the birthday party-goers went for a post-theatre meal.

Noises Off is not a long play, typically lasting no more than two hours and ten minutes including interval. The Woking branch of the restaurant is only half a mile from the New Victoria Theatre. The schoolgirls might therefore have been expected to arrive at the venue a little after 5pm. At best, the Duke’s Newsnight recall — ‘I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party, at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon’ — was a guesstimate based on the diary entry and a faint memory. But if the Princess had attended the matinee, as the diary suggests, she should have arrived in Woking several hours earlier than that — just when the Duke was due for his manicure.

It’s possible that for some reason she had only attended the meal and not the theatre, dropped off by her father at 5pm, as he recalled. Or was she perhaps picked up by the Duke after the meal had finished, despite his specific Newsnight claim that he had ‘taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express’?

Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday - Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right), the Earl and Countess of Derby. June 22 2000

Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday - Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right), the Earl and Countess of Derby. June 22 2000

Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday – Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right), the Earl and Countess of Derby. June 22 2000

We understand he now has a ‘vague recollection’ of being parked up and ‘waiting under a railway bridge’ nearby. The main Waterloo-to-Exeter railway line runs through Woking. It crosses over a main road some 300 metres from Pizza Express. Still, it is an odd detail for the Duke to remember, when he forgets so much else.

What of Princess Beatrice? Alas for the Duke, according to an impeccable source she has ‘absolutely no recall whatsoever’ of this Pizza Express party or her father picking her up. She qualifies this inability to support her father’s account, by stating that as a schoolgirl she went to ‘any number’ of meals at the Woking Pizza Express. She cannot remember every single one, two decades after the event.

The Mail has also received a statement from the parents of the girl who threw the Pizza Express party. The family were anxious to help the Yorks. But while they said that Beatrice did go to their party they have no pictures nor a recall of the event.

‘We had made a deliberate decision from the outset not to take photographs of, or around, Bea as it seemed to be permanently open season among some parents who indulged in this sport,’ the parents explained.

‘The party was almost 20 years ago. We were living in Woking and had two daughters at prep school there. Not only were their birthdays celebrated in Pizza Express but almost every beginning of term, end of term and half-term. Pizza Express was just the place they liked to go for their treats.’

They added: ‘Bea was one of our daughter’s friends at school. There were no special arrangements or formalities regarding her parents, they were frequently around the school and the girls’ social lives. They were informal and unobtrusive.’

There is a point to this close examination of the Duke’s vague recollections of what he claims was his innocently spent day.

What if the Duke didn’t play any direct part in Beatrice’s attendance at the birthday party, leaving the fetching and carrying to her bodyguards or his domestic staff?

Once ‘Jeanne’ had completed his manicure, he could have been driven to Central London before 5pm.

If the Duke was only in Woking briefly, between 4-5pm as he said, then conceivably he could also have reached the capital in time for late tea with Epstein and his entourage.

But if the Duke had been present as a hands-on father to pick up his daughter at the end of the birthday meal, and then taken her back to Sunninghill Park, he could not have been in Central London that night much before 8pm.

This last scenario is the only one of the three incompatible with his accuser’s own account of what happened that afternoon and evening.

And as we shall see, there are more troubling issues ahead.

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