Prince Andrew has been formally asked to speak at the Jeffrey Epstein inquiry by the US Department of Justice, according to the BBC.
The Department of Justice filed a "mutual legal assistance" (MLA) to the UK Home Office, which allowed them to bypass Buckingham Palace in the hopes that the Prince Andrew will then be forced to testify.
The MLA is use to acquire evidence and information through cooperation between the US and the UK when prosecuting a criminal case.
Should the UK government approve the MLA, the FBI could then ask Prince Andrew, 60, to testify under oath as a witness about his connection to the late Jeffrey Epstein. He died while in police custody in New York after having been arrested on charges of the sex trafficking of minors.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, does not have sovereign immunity from prosecution, like his mother Queen Elizabeth.
“It’s a huge statement of intent from the US and it moves Andrew into the realms of a criminal investigation. It’s also frankly a diplomatic nightmare,” one source told The Sun. “The DOJ does not make a request of this nature lightly, especially one involving a senior member of the British royal family. It puts the UK government in a very difficult position—and the Duke of York even more so.”
All previous attempts to have the Duke cooperate with US authorities to provide some information on the Epstein's elaborate sex trafficking network have been heavily resisted by Prince Andrew.
One of Epstein's victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has claimed that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasion by Epstein, dating back to 2001 when Guiffre was only 17-years-old.
Prince Andrew has adamantly denied all accusations made by Giuffre, however, following an interview with the BBC last year in an attempt to justify his relationship with Epstein that turned out to be a disaster for his public image, Prince Andrew was asked to step away from his royal duties.
Following the interview, Prince Andrew said he would be "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency." However US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, who is in charge of the investigation into Epstein said the prince had provided "zero co-operation" to the investigators in January of 2020.
The British Home Office guidance said that it is "usual policy" that the existence of an MLA request is neither confirmed or denied.