Prince Andrew has reportedly cancelled one of his annual activities as he anxiously awaits further developments in the Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
According to The Sun, the Duke of York has cancelled his annual golf holiday as he is too "nervous" to leave the UK after the US Justice Department lodged an official request to grill him as a witness over his ties to the disgraced billionaire paedophile.
Last year, the Duke of York travelled to Spain for his annual golf holiday and stayed at a friend's mansion, just days after his former friend was found dead in his New York jail cell.
But according to a palace insider, this year's trip has now been called off.
Prince Andrew's anxiety reportedly kicked into overdrive last week following the arrest of another close former friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of playing a significant role in Epstein's sex crimes.
It's reported that she was the one who first introduced the Queen's son to Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, then Roberts, who has since claimed she slept with Andrew at least three times, beginning when she was just 17.
The prince has vehemently denied the accusations, most infamously during his train wreck interview with BBC's Newsnight programme last November, which subsequently led to his resignation from public duties.
In June, the Department of Justice submitted a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to the UK Home Office for Prince Andrew to answer questions over Epstein's offending.
However, media lawyer Mark Stevens told The Sun that the request may be "a trap" to lure the royal over to the US.
"They know they can't extradite him. What they're trying to do is get him over voluntarily and, if they think they've got enough evidence, charge him there," he told the publication.
"He's not a witness, he's a covert target of this operation."
The DoJ application sparked a war of words between Prince Andrew and US authorities, who accused him of trying to "falsely portray himself to the public" after he publicly insisted he had offered to help in the Epstein investigation "at least three times" and was being treated at a "lower standard" than other citizens.
In June, the Duke of York's legal team at Blackfords LLP issued an extraordinary statement refuting claims that the Queen's second son had offered "zero co-operation" and a "wall of silence" to investigators.
His lawyers, Clare Montgomery QC and Stephen Ferguson, said so far they had chosen not to speak out about any conversations with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) but would now do so in light of "misleading media briefings".
"The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation," they said.
"In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."
The lawyers also snapped back at "inaccurate" statements from US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, who said in late January that there had been a "wall of silence" from Prince Andrew.
But within hours, Berman had again hit back at the Duke of York's "false" claims.
"Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offences committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally – through the very same counsel who issued today's release – that he would not come in for such an interview," he said in a statement released by his office.
"If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about co-operating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open, and we await word of when we should expect him."