Prince Andrew: I let royal family down by hanging out with Epstein
Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has told the BBC that he let the royal family down by associating himself with Jeffrey Epstein, even after the late disgraced financier was convicted as a sex offender.
“I stayed with him and that’s … that’s the bit that … I kick myself for on a daily basis,” Prince Andrew said. “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.”
The Duke of York spoke with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in an interview recorded at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, answering questions about his relationship with Epstein for the first time. Portions of the interview were released ahead of the broadcast of the full interview, which will air Saturday on BBC Two.
The Duke faces serious allegations over his relationship with the 66-year-old financier, who died by suicide in August while awaiting trial on federal charges accusing him of sexually abusing underage girls and running a sex trafficking ring. Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In 2015, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, said in a federal court filing that she was forced to have sex with the prince while underage. She alleged Epstein forced her to perform sex acts with a number of prominent men, including the Duke of York in 2001. All have denied the allegations.
Maitlis told Prince Andrew that Roberts Giuffre “has made allegations against you. 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 to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?”
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Andrew said.
“You don’t remember meeting her?” Maitlis said.
“No,” he said.
Some media analysts suggested it was unwise of Prince Andrew to have given the interview. “I think any reputation management professional, whether lawyer or PR, is going to say that this was a catastrophic error of judgement,” prominent media lawyer Mark Stephens told the BBC on Saturday.
Stephens 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.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Prince Andrew, the Queen’s third child, has repeatedly rejected all accusations leveled against him in connection to the Epstein case, but this is the first time he has spoken about them publicly.
Buckingham Palace has told CNN previously that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue,” and denied that the prince had “any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.”
The prince was named in court papers unsealed in August, in fresh allegations that he groped another young woman at Epstein’s Manhattan property.
Also in August, The Mail On Sunday published grainy video footage that the British paper said showed the prince at the door of Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2010, after Epstein was a registered sex offender.
Buckingham Palace put out a statement signed by the Prince that was emphatic in distancing the British Royal from Epstein.
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes. 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,” it said.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state prostitution charges, ultimately serving only 13 months and avoiding a federal trial. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
The prince said in an August 24 statement that it was a “mistake and an error” to have seen Epstein after the financier first pleaded guilty to sex crimes.
CNN’s Max Foster, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Vicky Ward contributed to this report.