As the nation took their seats and got ready for the greatly anticipated Prince Andrew tell-all interview tonight, no one expected that a humble Pizza Express branch would become the breakout star.
The pizza chain’s Woking branch, in Surrey, has since been flooded with fake reviews after the Duke’s alibi placed him at the restaurant on the day his accuser claims she was forced into having sex with him.
During the Andrew’s grilling on BBC’s Newsnight on Saturday, he said he could not have had sex with Virginia Giuffre on the alleged date because he had taken his daughter to the restaurant.
Mrs Giuffre, then Virginia Roberts, claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince when she was 17 and is one of 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein.
She said she was trafficked by the disgraced financier and forced into sexual encounters with the Duke in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.
The Duke claimed he had ‘no recollection’ of ever meeting Mrs Giuffre, despite the pair being pictured together, which he suggested was ‘doctored’.
He told BBC journalist Emily Maitlis: ‘On that particular day, that we now understand is the date which is the 10th of March, I was at home.
‘I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose, sort of, four or five in the afternoon’.
He added: ‘Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do.
‘I’ve never been… I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.’
Within minutes of the interview being aired, the branch was inundated with reviews, with one saying: ‘If you’re in need of an alibi, this is the restaurant for you.’
Another said: ‘Pizza Express Woking is like no other pizza express! It’s a memory which will never disappear once you visit the Woking branch. It’s amazing the lasting effect a pizza can have on you!
‘The pizza is so good from this specific branch it gives you the ability to not only remember what year you visited but the exact day and month! Truly incredible.’
Mrs Giuffre said on the night in question, the prince was ‘profusely sweating’ as they danced at London’s Tramp nightclub but the Duke said that is not possible, as he had a condition at the time meaning he was unable to perspire.
‘I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time,’ Andrew claimed.
‘…I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply… it was almost impossible for me to sweat.’
He said it was only because he had ‘done a number of things in the recent past’ that he was able to sweat again.
Google reviewers poked fun at the condition, with one saying he found it strange that a man next to him didn’t break into a sweat despite eating a spicy pizza.
The reviewer wrote: ‘Love this place. I had a cracking pizza here in 2001. I remember it was 2001 because it was very strange the guy next to me had an American Hot pizza with extra chillies… not a drop of sweat came off him. Very odd.’
9: 00 pm – Switch off computer 🍷
10: 00 pm – 120 messages on work WhatsApp group telling you to “check Twitter now” 😳 pic.twitter.com/ErVOEXtNVi
— PizzaExpress 🍕 (@PizzaExpress) November 16, 2019
Another joked: ‘Thoroughly enjoyed my American pizza on a balmy Spring evening in 2001. Only negative was that the air con was broken and after a while it started to become very hot and stuffy.
‘There only seemed to be one man there not breaking out into a sweat, which he claimed was because of an overdose of adrenaline.
‘Overall, I had a fantastic meal and would recommend. Why go anywhere else (i.e. Tramps in London) when you could go here and be treated like Royalty by the fantastic staff?’
And it didn’t take long for Pizza Express’ social account to be buzzing with Twitter mentions, with the Woking branch quickly shooting to the top of trending stories on the site.
The chain’s official Twitter account wrote: ‘9: 00 pm – Switch off computer
’10: 00 pm – 120 messages on work WhatsApp group telling you to “check Twitter now”.’
A picture was shared alongside the tweet showing a laptop with the chain’s logo as a display picture, with a bottle and a glass of wine next to it.
Andrew made the comments during a BBC Newsnight interview about his links to paedophile Epstein, who was found dead in his New York prison cell earlier this year, where he was being held on sex trafficking charges.