Prince Andrew was Jeffrey Epstein’s "biggest trophy" and a tool he used to impress the elite, according to a British socialite. Picture: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File

London - Prince Andrew was Jeffrey Epstein’s "biggest trophy" and a tool he used to impress the elite, according to a British socialite.

Lady Victoria Hervey said the paedophile billionaire, who killed himself in prison, was "addicted to collecting people" such as the royal.

"Andrew was kind of like newly single," she told Channel 4 Dispatches. "And he meets this, you know, charismatic man – Jeffrey collected people. He was almost addicted to collecting important people."

"He liked to impress people. So, the British Royal Family, can you imagine? This was his, you know, biggest kind of trophy."

Andrew says he first met Epstein in 1999, around the same time he had a brief romance with Lady Victoria. An unnamed friend of Epstein tells the programme that the prince’s friendship with the American after his 2009 conviction for having sex with underage girls was "more than a lack of judgment" and showed hubris.

The friend added: "You begin to believe you can’t be damaged. You’re beyond being damaged. The little people out there can’t touch you."

He said he warned Epstein against having the prince visit him in New York in 2010 following his spell in prison for sex offences.

He claims he told Epstein: "They will attack Prince Andrew for being your friend, and each of you will lose. This is a lose-lose. And I remember him saying no one will know." The warnings proved correct and the pair were photographed together in Central Park.

Andrew admits he knew Epstein for 12 years but has strongly denied any inappropriate behaviour with underage girls. Dai Davis, who was in charge of royal protection for the Metropolitan Police in the 1990s, said he was "mystified" as to why Scotland Yard did not investigate.

Andrew lost his job as a UK trade envoy and one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, went public. She claims she was loaned out to the prince three times for sex when she was 17. The prince strenuously denies these claims.

A royal spokesman said: "His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent."

Epstein hanged himself in August in prison in New York while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges.

Daily Mail