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Donald Trump denies knowing Prince Andrew as royals gather for NATO reception

Donald Trump denies knowing Prince Andrew as royals gather for NATO reception

The royal family has welcomed US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II was joined by her children and other royal family members as she hosted a reception for NATO leaders at the palace on Tuesday night. Prince Andrew was notably absent amid growing controversy surrounding the scandal involving sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In a press conference in London prior to the reception, Trump denied knowing Prince Andrew despite being photographed with him on several occasions.

“I don’t know Prince Andrew. It’s a tough story, it’s a very tough story,” Trump said. “I don’t know him.”

The two men were pictured together in 2000 with Trump’s then-girlfriend Melania Knauss and Epstein at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

In June this year, the Duke of York shared on his Twitter account about a breakfast meeting he attended with Trump during the president’s state visit to the UK.

Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, stepped down from his royal duties last month after his interview with the BBC was widely criticised for failing to address his longtime relationship with Epstein.

In an interview aired in the UK on Monday, Virginia Giuffre reiterated her allegation that she was trafficked to have sex with the prince on three occasions between 2001 and 2002.

“This is not some sordid sex story,” Giuffre said. “This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty.”

Buckhingham Palace denied her allegations. “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,” the palace said in a statement to CNN.