Prince Andrew gave Ghislaine Maxwell a 'veneer of respectability'

Prince Andrew’s friendship gave Ghislaine Maxwell a ‘veneer of respectability’ and the appearance of ‘the Queen’s approval’ within New York society, columnist claims

  • Couri Hay worked as society columnist various New York magazines in the 1990s
  • Says Ghislaine Maxwell’s friendship with Duke of York was her ‘main calling card’
  • Revealed US society duped into believing Maxwell had the royal seal of approval
  • Speaks out about relationship with pair in BBC2 documentary House of Maxwell

Prince Andrew’s friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell gave her a ‘veneer of respectability’ and royal approval in elite social circles, a society columnist has claimed. 

Couri Hay worked as the society columnist for New York’s Hamptons and Avenue magazines in the 1990s, where he met Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein at a number of glitzy, exclusive parties. 

He says that Maxwell ‘dealt in the commerce of important people’ and that she would ‘go out with an invisible butterfly net’ into the social scenes of New York and London to ‘capture the beautiful people’.

Speaking in BBC2 series House of Maxwell, which premieres tonight, Hay claimed her relationship with the Duke of York ‘elevated’ her because it appeared the former socialite had the ‘blessing of the Queen’.

Prince Andrew denied being a close friend of convicted sex trafficker Maxwell in a legal response to Virginia Giuffre, to whom he paid £12million to settle a US civil sexual assault case.   

Prince Andrew’s friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell coated her with a ‘veneer of respectability’ and royal approval in elite social circles, a society columnist has claimed. Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell are pictured at Royal Ascot in 2000

Photos emerged last year of Epstein and Maxwell spending time at the Queen’s log cabin at Glen Beg at her Balmoral residence

‘Her big card was Prince Andrew, that was her main calling card. Everywhere she went, Prince Andrew this, Prince Andrew that,’ said Hay.  

‘There’s no question Prince Andrew elevated Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein it just gave her this veneer, she’s in the royal court, she’s a friend of the prince. She has the blessing of the Queen. 

‘It coated her with a veneer of respectability. But I don’t believe the society people I know whose names I can’t even speak because they would kill me, knew, we just didn’t know. People weren’t paying attention.’

There is no evidence any other member of the Royal Family had a relationship with Maxwell and Andrew previously stated that he had ‘let down the Royal Family’ by maintaining a relationship with Epstein. 

Couri Hay worked as the society columnist for New York’s Hamptons and Avenue magazines in the 1990s, where he met Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein at a number of glitzy, exclusive parties

Photos emerged last year of Epstein and Maxwell spending time at the Queen’s Balmoral residence and reports in 2019 claimed Ghislaine made several secret visits to Buckingham Palace to visit Andrew.

Hay spoke about their relationship in upcoming documentary House of Maxwell, which charts how Ghislaine Maxwell went from a multi-millionaire’s daughter to a woman convicted of grooming and trafficking underage girls.

The society columnist and PR guru worked as a gossip columnist for the National Enquirer from 1976 to 1983, later writing a monthly society column for Avenue Magazine and becoming society editor for Hamptons Magazine. 

Speaking in the documentary, he said: ‘Her little black book was everything to her. She dealt in the commerce of introductions. 

‘She really was a connector. She had this invisible butterfly net and she would go out in the social scene and capture the beautiful people. 

‘She had this posh accent, she was well educated, she was witty and she was fun and she deliberately set out to make friends with important people and she used her royal rolodex to do that.’

Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team launch bids for retrial for convicted child sex trafficker

Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of grooming and trafficking underage girls last year. 

However Maxwell’s legal team requested that her sex trafficking conviction be overturned and the case be retried in January.  

Maxwell is hoping for a retrial after it emerged that one juror failed to disclose that he was sexually abused as a child before the trial. 

In February, lawyers for the disgraced socialite filed another 37-page appeal at a New York court claiming ‘erroneous’ jury instructions made her conviction unfair.

 Jurors seemingly believed one victim – who gave her name only as Jane – who said she was abused by Epstein and Maxwell at his ranch in New Mexico when she was 16.

The appeal documents say: ‘A jury note sent during deliberations indicated that the jurors were considering convicting Ms Maxwell…based solely on the New Mexico conduct.’ 

Maxwell’s lawyers argue that the judge should have explained to jurors that under New Mexico law ‘Jane’ was not underage and should have instructed them to focus only on alleged sex assaults in New York where the age of consent is 18. 

Maxwell, 60, faces up to 65 years in jail when she is sentenced on June 28 after being found guilty in December on five charges.

He said that while Ghislaine was ‘effervescent’ and performative, Epstein was quiet and shy and that Maxwell acted as a ‘social secretary’ of sorts for the billionaire paedophile.   

‘When Ghislaine Maxwell was in the room you knew she was there and she wanted you to know she was there,’ he said. ‘She performed. She was on she was effervescent and I felt she knew she was being watched, wanted to be watched. 

‘But Jeffery Epstein was another case, he was shy, he didn’t really stand out. So Ghislaine filed the idea of being his social director, it was almost like she was his social secretary.’ 

Hay, who also runs a public relations firm, says that Epstein turned to him for advice following his 2008 conviction for solicitation of prostitution involving a minor.

‘Jeffery Epstein calls me. My office freaked out, it was embarrassing to even get the call. Jeffery wanted crisis management, he wanted advice. So I put my tie on and trotted over to the house, because I wanted to see the house. 

‘This very grand house, supposedly worth $77million and there’s this very grand foyer with a big curving staircase. 

I did notice throughout the house there were a lot of very heavy, velvet drapes. Out walks Jeffery. 

Hay says he had ‘no intention’ of representing Epstein and he never paid him for advice. 

The PR guru says he asked him how to avoid having “Paedophile billionaire engraved on my tombstone, every story starts off with Paedophile billionaire Jeffery Epstein”. 

‘In some cases you can’t do it,’ said Hay. ‘You simply can’t explain Ghislaine or Jeffery Epstein.’ 

While he never represented Epstein, Hay suggested he meet with the Pope as a way of ‘showing contrition’ – however was baffled to discover both Maxwell and the sex offender had already received private audience with John Paul II at the Vatican in 2003. 

‘I said “it starts with really showing contrition, confessing”.

‘I said, “Jeffery, who better than the highest power on earth in communication with God. Why don’t I get you an audience with the Pope? But of course he’s already thought of it years ago. 

‘I said, “why don’t you give money, there’s an arts foundation and people have given away lots and lots of money to whitewash their images”. So Ghislaine of course started her own charity.’

As part of their PR charm offensive, Ghislaine launched a marine conservation non-profit, The TerraMar Project, in early 2012. 

‘It was potentially, possibly to help the oceans but what she was really helping was herself,’ said Hay. 

House of Maxwell begins Monday at 9pm on BBC Two. 

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