PRINCE Andrew has secretly visited Bahrain and claims he is seeking an unofficial role as mediator between the West and the oil-rich Gulf countries in the energy crisis.
The disgraced Duke of York, 62, flew on a billionaire’s jet from Switzerland last week to be treated to five-star luxury by his longtime friends in the kingdom’s royal family.
It was recently reported that he was eyeing a return to public life through a trading role, although the reason for the trip was not recorded in the court circular as he is no longer a working king.
Sources claim he is “assessing his chances” of continuing to serve as the government’s special envoy for international trade and investment – and believes he could try to persuade Saudi Arabia to increase oil production.
Others said he was on vacation in Bahrain as a “privately funded” guest of honor. There are also claims that he sees the Middle East as a safe haven in which to settle as his reputation in the UK is in tatters.
It’s his first trip outside the UK since the summer of 2019, when he was flown to southern Spain on a golf trip just weeks after the death of his pedophile financial pal Jeffrey Epstein.
He quit his trafficking role because of his connections to Epstein, 66, through which he met sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre.
Father-of-two Andrew has been accused of sexually abusing her but they reportedly reached a £10million out-of-court settlement in February.
The Duke – nicknamed ‘Air Miles Andy’ before landing because of his frequent foreign travel – is believed to be staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, where the Royal Suite costs £8,600 a night and coffee is served in 24k gold mugs.
He regularly visits Bahrain and is known as a fan of The Royal Golf Club championship course.
As a working king, he had close ties to his royal family and competed with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
He visited the King’s eldest son, Crown Prince Salman, at his London residence in 2011 after more than 40 pro-democracy protesters were killed in a security attack in Bahrain.
The Duke also flew to Bahrain in January 2014 and was received by Sheikh Abdullah, King Hamad’s second son.
He had a close relationship with Sheikh Abdullah, who paid Michael Jackson millions of dollars to live in Bahrain for 11 months after his acquittal on child molestation charges.
Andrew attended a dinner for the Bahrain-British Business Forum at the Radisson Diplomat Hotel in Manama and met King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman.
In April 2018 he opened a UK naval base and police training center provided by Huddersfield University, of which he was Chancellor. He met again with King Hamad and the Bahrain Minister of the Interior.
He returned in March 2019 to visit the naval base with King Hamad and in May he took his former wife Sarah Ferguson to the Bahrain Grand Prix and stayed at the Ritz Carlton as a guest of the Bahraini Royal Family.
He was due to return in November 2019, but the trip was scrapped as it came days after the Newsnight interview in which he discussed his friendship with Epstein.
A source said of his recent trip: “Prince Andrew doesn’t have a large circle of friends anymore, but royal families have a habit of sticking together.
“He has been close to the Bahraini royal family for many years and has always enjoyed his trips to Bahrain.
“There are people there who have remained loyal to the Queen’s son and have deep pockets.”
The Sun on Sunday understands Andrew flew on a VistaJets plane owned by Thomas Flohr, 62, who has ties to the Duke’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.
They attended the wedding of his daughter Nina, 35, and 36-year-old Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark in Athens last October.
A pro-democracy group criticizing Bahrain’s human rights record has slammed Prince Andrew for his long-standing ties to the state.
Sayed Ahmed Al Wadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy called his relationship with Bahrain’s “corrupt” ruling family “toxic and shameful”.
He said: “For several years he visited the country and met with the Bahraini police despite their record of violence, extreme interrogation tactics and the use of torture.
“Prince Andrew was also pictured laughing with King Hamad the same year he ratified the execution of three political prisoners whose confessions were coerced through torture.
“When Andrew’s relationship with Epstein came to light, Bahrain was the first place he considered fleeing to hide from public embarrassment.
“This reflects the depth of his shameful relationship with Bahrain’s corrupt dictatorship.”
A source said: “If Andrew isn’t wanted in the UK, he can have a home and a new life in Bahrain.”
Spokesmen for the Duke of York and King Charles declined to comment.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6718460/prince-andrew-behrain-visit-west-oil-energy-gulf/ Prince Andrew is secretly visiting Bahrain ‘as he seeks a role as middleman between the West and the oil-rich Gulf States’