Why Kevin Spacey and Ghislaine Maxwell Sat in Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's Thrones

Prince Andrew's connection to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has been called into question again

Prince Andrew's connection to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has been called into question again, as a photo of Epstein's alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell sitting alongside Kevin Spacey on thrones at Buckingham Palace emerged.

British newspaper The Telegraph released the shot on July 4, two days after Maxwell was arrested "for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein."

The image from 2002 shows Maxwell and Spacey, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple people — he pleaded not guilty and the criminal case against him was ultimately dropped — laughing as they sit on the thrones of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during a tour of Buckingham Palace. The tour of the palace is believed to have been arranged by Prince Andrew, the monarch's son, though it's unclear who took the image or if Andrew was in the Throne Room at the time.

"You don't see this hardly ever, if ever," PEOPLE Senior Editor Michelle Tauber explains in this week's episode of The Royal Report.

Why Kevin Spacey and Ghislaine Maxwell Sat in <a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> and <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-philip/" data-inlink="true">Prince Philip</a>'s Thrones
Ghislaine Maxwell and Kevin Spacey. Gareth Cattermole/Getty; Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty

"These are chairs — thrones — that would be roped off with the proverbial red velvet rope that you're picturing in your mind. They are not something that anyone would be expected to sit in," she says. "They are considered historic artifacts, so it's not something that would be in any way an appropriate use of the thrones regardless of who you are — unless you happen to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip."

Although the palace has not addressed the photo, Tauber explains, "Behind the scenes, we expect no one was happy at the palace, including Her Majesty."

Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images; Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan

Federal prosecutors in New York have reportedly made a formal request through the U.K. to speak with Prince Andrew as part of their criminal investigation into convicted sex offender Epstein.

Andrew's legal firm, Blackfords LLP, responded to claims that the royal hasn't been cooperative, saying, "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 cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."

Prince Andrew BBC Interview
Prince Andrew’s BBC interview. BBC/Mark Harrison

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Prince Andrew formally stepped back from royal duties following his disastrous BBC interview about his ties to Epstein in November.

In the interview, Andrew discussed his years-long friendship with Epstein and the sexual abuse allegations of Virginia Roberts (now Virginia Giuffre). Giuffre’s accusations, which the prince denies. Giuffre says she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with the royal three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein, starting when she was just 17 years old.

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