British royal Prince Andrew has broken his silence to publicly dismiss reports linking him to an underage sex scandal.
Queen Elizabeth Ii's second son has been caught up in a tabloid controversy amid allegations he engaged in sexual relations with Virginia Roberts on three occasions when she was just 17 years old during his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Roberts' accusations hit headlines at the start of 2015 after court papers were filed against Epstein in Florida on 30 December (14) as part of a long-running legal battle by two other females, who claim they were also sexually abused as minors by the disgraced banking mogul.
Representatives for London royal residence Buckingham Palace immediately shot down the allegations against Prince Andrew with a firm statement of denial, insisting "any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue".
Now the Prince himself has addressed the claims for the first time during a televised meeting with business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Thursday (22Jan15).
Before getting down to business, the Prince told the crowd, "Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
"I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.
"My focus is on my work and this evening's reception allows me to tell you about just a couple of the initiatives that I have founded and am passionate about."
Billionaire Epstein, 61, served 13 months of an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008.
Prince Andrew, 54, is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit and has never faced formal allegations of improper behaviour with minors in connection to the Epstein case.