Prince Andrew has said that he failed to uphold the standards of the royal family when he visitedJeffrey Epsteinafter the paedophile’s release from prison, admitting: “I let the side down , simple as that. ”
The prince made the statement in an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program, the first time he has spoken publicly about his friendship withEpstein, to be broadcast on Saturday night.
In a pre-recorded interview with Emily Maitlis, understood to have been the result of six months of negotiations with the royal household, Andrew also said he had “no recollection” of ever meetingVirginia Giuffre, the woman who claims to have been coerced into having sex with the royal by the financier Epstein.
Andrew said he regretted remaining friends with Epstein after he was found guilty of sexual offences: “I stayed with him and that’s… that’s… that’s… bit the… that… that… that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that. ”
Asking the prince about the alleged sexual encounter with Giuffre, which Giuffre alleges took place when she was flown to London on Epstein’s private jet aged just 17, Maitlis said: “She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp Nightclub in London. She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging toGhislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response? ”
Andrew replied: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
Asked again if he had any memory of meeting her, he repeated: “No.”
Giuffre has previously said that while the prince denies the claims, “he knows the truth and I know the truth”.
Andrew has faced a barrage of criticism for his links to Epstein, who wasfound dead in a New York jail cellthree months ago while facing renewed criminal charges.
He has been haunted by apicture of himposing with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken at the home of Maxwell. Sources close to the prince have previously claimed that the photo was faked, in part because his fingers are “much chubbier” in real life.
Newsnight sources said that the royal household agreed that there would be no advance vetting of questions for the interview, which was conducted on Thursday at Buckingham Palace. Maitlis promised that it would be “no holds barred”.
Giuffre is one of 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein . Her allegations were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were “immaterial and impertinent”.
Buckingham Palace has previously called the allegations “false and without any foundation” and said “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.
The palace has also said the duke was “appalled” by the allegations against Epstein. It said: “His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent.”
Ahead of the interview airing, Sarah, Duchess of York, defended her ex-husband, calling him “stoically steadfast”. Writing on Twitter on Friday night as news of the interview was dominating the headlines, she said: “It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs . *****
“Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty, but also his kindness and goodness.”
She posted the message alongside four pictures of her former husband, who is the father to her two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. The duke and duchess were married for 10 years between 1986 and 1996 . *****