August usually heralds a lull in royal coverage.

The Windsors, en masse, decamp to Balmoral, the Queen's privately owned 50,000 acre home in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. There, picnics, hunting and fly-fishing are on the agenda. It is a blissful time of respite from the clamouring world for Her Majesty and her family.

But not this year.

Last week, a judge in the US unsealed 1200 court documents relating to a defamation case brought by former "sex slave" Virginia Giuffre against Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the woman who allegedly helped procure underage girls for him.


The documents contain the allegation, since denied, that Prince Andrew once groped a young woman's breast at Epsteins' Manhattan mansion. Giuffre has also previously alleged that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew in 2001, a claim Buckingham Palace has strenuously denied.

In a statement put out over the weekend, the Palace said: "Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue. It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

This is only the latest scandal that the Duke of York has found himself embroiled in, with the 59-year-old having been involved in a litany of scrapes and public embarrassments stretching back decades.


In 1981, Andrew was set up on a blind date with Koo Stark, an American actress. She had been cast in Star Wars in a minor role, as a friend of Luke Skywalker, but sadly ended up on the cutting room floor.

The attraction was instant. "He walked into my life and that was it: he was my life," Stark said in a 2015 interview.

Soon, Andrew introduced her to his mother, who is said to have liked the bubbly brunette, regularly inviting her to tea, according to reports.

In 1982, while the couple was holidaying in the royal hotspot of Mustique, topless photos of Stark from a 1976 coming-of-age film called Emily emerged, a movie which also featured a naked lesbian shower scene. (Two years after its release, Emily was the UK's biggest earning softcore film.)


"I had to fake sex in my first film," Stark once said according to People. "Because I didn't know what it was like."

The press had a field day, with headlines such as "Sex Scene Sizzlers From Andy's Girl" and "Andrew romps with nudie star".

As the paparazzi hounded Stark, and despite Andrew's entreaties to the Palace to help her, their relationship collapsed.

In 1988 Stark said: "The amount of attention and pressure on me became unbearable. It was a nightmare."


In 2008, a Libyan businessman named Tarek Kaituni is alleged to have introduced the Prince to Sakher El Materi, the son-in-law of Tunisian dictator Zine Ben Ali. Andrew is later alleged to have entertained El Materi at Buckingham Palace.

The same year, Kaituni is reported to have joined Andrew for a meeting with Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi in Tunisia.

Months later, Andrew is reported to have travelled to Tripoli to meet with Colonel Gaddafi with the (UK) Telegraph reporting that freeing Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi was a top priority of the regime. At the time, Buckingham Palace denied that such a meeting had taken place.


In 2011, it was reported that Kaituni had given Princess Beatrice a $35,000 diamond necklace as a birthday present. (Kaituni had previously been convicted of smuggling a sub-machine gun into France.) Months later, the Duke allegedly lobbied a British water treatment company to make Kaituni a consultant. A spokesman for Andrew at the time denied to the Guardian that he "ever acted on Kaituni's behalf, received personal gifts or solicited payments for him".


After Andrew's marriage to Sarah Ferguson, the Queen had a mansion called Sunninghill Park built for the newlyweds as a wedding present. In 1996, after the Duke and Duchess of York's divorce, Andrew moved out of the property though his ex-wife and their two daughters remained there for years to come. (He later moved into the Queen Mother's former residence Royal Lodge and his family joined him.)

In 2007, Andrew sold Sunninghill Park to Kazakh oligarch Timur Kulibayev (son-in-law of the President of Kazakhstan) for $5.3 million above the asking price after the home had been on the market for five years, the Sunday Times reports.

In 2011, the Prince is said to have asked Coutts, the Queen's bank, to take Kulibayev on as a client.

"We cannot be clearer that there is no question of the Duke of York having benefited from his position as special representative in his sale of the property," a spokesperson for the Prince said in 2010.

"Any suggestion that he has abused his public position is completely untrue. The sale was a straight commercial transaction.

Prince Andrew later told the Telegraph: "It's not my business the second the price is paid. If that is the offer, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and suggest they have overpaid me."


The person who is rumoured to have introduced Andrew and Kulibayev is Goga Ashkenazi, a mysterious self-made oil million millionaire who also happened to have been in a former relationship Kulibayev. (The duo have two young sons.)

Andrew and Ashkenazi's friendship has seen them attend each other's birthday bashes (her 30th, his 50th at St James's Palace) and for him to invite her to the royal enclosure at Ascot where he is said to have introduced her to his mother.


In 2010, leaked cables from Washington's then ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Tatiana Gfoeller revealed that Prince Andrew had launched what the Guardiantermed a "scathing attack" against journalists, the French and British anti-corruption investigators. The cable also said that the royal had spoken "cockily" during a business brunch and had "verged on the rude".


In the 2000s, Andrew was given the nickname "Air Miles Andy" for his penchant for pricey travel.

In 2014, he travelled the equivalent of three times around the globe (107,000km) despite no longer being an international trade envoy for the British Government. The Telegraph reports he is believed to have added personal golfing trips onto official taxpayer-funded visits.

He has also been criticised for his choice to fly to the US by private plane in 2008, which cost $177,000 and then the following year when he used a helicopter to fly a short distance for a party at a golf course.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and freelance writer with 15 years' experience who has written for some of Australia's best print and digital media brands. Continue the conversation @DanielaElser