Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, rejected allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls, and attempted to clarify his relationship with longtime friend and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in an interview for the BBC.
The interview, recorded Thursday at Buckingham Palace was the first time Prince Andrew has spoken about the accusations publicly. He has repeatedly denied them through statements issued by Buckingham Palace.
Prince Andrew had hoped that a TV interview would stop the flow of negative press coverage, instead the interview broadcast on Saturday night made the situation far worse for the prince, and raised even more questions and headlines around the world.
“I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad,” Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website wrote in a tweet.
The Duke of York told BBC’s Emily Maitlis he had seen nothing that struck him as suspicious when he was around Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein, died by apparent suicide in August while awaiting trial on federal charges for the sexual abuse of underage girls and running a sex trafficking ring. Emily Maitlis didn’t shy from asking pointed questions about his actions and affiliations, Andrew’s answers seemed inconsistent and he seemed to ramble throughout.
CNN reports, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has alleged that she was forced into sexual encounters with the prince while underage. In a 2015 federal court filing, Giuffre alleged Epstein forced her to perform sex acts with several prominent men, including Prince Andrew in 2001. All of them have denied the allegations.
Andrew said that he has “no recollection” of meeting Giuffre. He refused to commit to, testifying under oath, he would only testify “if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so”.
Epstein had previously been incarcerated after accusations of abusing dozens of underage girls and in 2007 was required to register as a sex offender, Maitlis asked Andrew why he continued to visit Epstein and stay at his home knowing about his history. He said, because it was “convenient” and “honorable.”
On the night it is claimed he had sex with Roberts Giuffre, Andrew said he distinctly remembered he had taken his elder daughter to a party at Pizza Express, a pizza restaurant.
Asked by Maitlis whether he felt any “guilt, regret or shame” about his behavior or friendship with Epstein, the prince said only that it was “the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010.”
“Do I regret the fact he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.” said the prince of Epstein, to which Maitlis replies: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.” The prince then responds: “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite, I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender.”
It was also revealed that Epstein was invited to the 18th birthday party of his daughter, Princess Beatrice, even though at the time Epstein had been subject to an arrest warrant for the sexual assault of a minor. (CNN)
The prime-time car-crash interview, was apparently six months in the making. Mark Stephens a prominent media lawyer told the BBC the interview was a “catastrophic error of judgment.” He added that the prince’s comments could open him up to more scrutiny. “What effectively Prince Andrew has done is lit the blue touchpaper and really, things are going to spiral out of control,” he said.
There was little sympathy for the 59-year-old prince in the British press.
Sunday Times columnist Camila Long wrote: “There are toffs, there are royals, and then, it seems, there is Saint Prince Andrew. He is a man so much nobler than the rest of us that during his interview about his sex life … he had the absurdity to describe his behaviour around convicted paedo Jeffrey Epstein as simply ‘too honourable.”
No regret – The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond wrote: “There was notably little in the way of apology or remorse in the interview. Aside from that visit to Epstein’s house in 2010, Prince Andrew does not think he has done anything wrong.”