THE BANNED OLD DUKE OF YORK
■ ANDREW IS FORCED TO STEP DOWN OVER LINKS TO CONVICTED PAEDOPHILE ■ SAYS HE IS READY TO CO-OPERATE WITH INVESTIGATIONS INTO EPSTEIN
PRINCE ANDREW stepped down from royal duties last night as pressure mounted on him over the Jeffrey Epstein child sex scandal.
The Duke of York revealed he would stay away from his public role for the ‘foreseeable future’, with his mother the Queen’s blessing.
He also offered to co-operate with any investigations into paedophile billionaire Epstein, who killed himself three months ago while in custody over sex trafficking allegations.
The announcement came after another day of turmoil for the prince.
More organisations he has worked with distanced themselves from him.
And a letter that surfaced, written by his former private secretary, said he met Epstein years earlier than he claimed he did in his car-crash BBC interview on Saturday. The royal said: ‘It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.
‘Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.’
After Epstein victims urged the prince to speak to the FBI, he said he was ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their
investigations, if required’. The Falklands War veteran added: ‘I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
‘His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.’
The prince agreed to the interview with BBC Newsnight in a bid to lay to rest claims that he had sex three times with American Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she was 17 and allegedly Epstein’s ‘sex slave’.
But it backfired after he offered no words of sympathy for Epstein’s victims.
He said he regretted going to stay with the financier in New York in 2010 after his host had done jail time for procuring an underage girl for prostitution.
But he was condemned for saying he did not regret their friendship as a whole. And he was mocked for saying he could not have had sex with Ms Roberts Giuffre on March 10, 2001, as he distinctly remembered being at Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey.
The prince has always denied all the allegations made by Ms Roberts Giuffre.
In the days after the interview, a string of organisations said they would review or end their involvement with Andrew’s Pitch@Palace scheme for tech entrepreneurs. Three Australian universities walked away yesterday as banking giant Barclays said it was considering whether to continue. And BT warned it would only go on backing a digital skills award scheme if the prince was dropped as patron. Meanwhile, a letter published by The Times in 2011 came to light. Written by Andrew’s then-private secretary Alastair Watson, it addressed ‘widespread comment’ about the royal’s links to Epstein and mentioned that they had known each other since being introduced in the early 1990s. The prince claimed in his interview with
Emily Maitlis that he first met Epstein in 1999.
Andrew’s former wife the Duchess of York yesterday said she was out of the UK over the last fortnight and had nothing to do with the Newsnight interview.
She had appeared to show support for her ex’s efforts to address the allegations about him by praising him on social media on Friday. But she is said to have told friends the interview was a disaster and blamed the prince’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk for encouraging him to give it.
Andrew becomes the first senior royal to step down over a scandal during his mother’s 67-year reign. The Queen looked in good spirits last night as she presented Sir David Attenborough with the Chatham House Prize for his work highlighting the problem of plastic pollution.
Queen’s consent: Andrew asked to step aside
Friends: Prince Andrew with Jeffrey Epstein in 2010
Convicted offender: Jeffrey Epstein
Bowing out: Andrew’s announcement
PR disaster: Andrew is interviewed by Emily Maitlis and (inset) Monday’s Metro front page
Carrying on: Queen and Sir David Attenborough at Chatham House in London last night