Duke’s dra­matic TV con­fes­sion: Stay­ing with Ep­stein was ‘un­be­com­ing of Royal Fam­ily mem­ber’ But he in­sists he DIDN’T sleep with teenage girl... and he DOESN’T even re­mem­ber meet­ing her

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Re­becca English Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

Prince An­drew has ad­mit­ted he let the Queen and the royal Fam­ily down by be­com­ing in­volved with a pae­dophile bil­lion­aire.

In a ‘make or break’ Tv in­ter­view about the scan­dal, he said he re­gret­ted go­ing to stay with Jef­frey ep­stein in New York af­ter the fi­nancier’s re­lease from prison on child sex of­fences.

‘The prob­lem was the fact that once he had been con­victed i stayed with him,’ he told the BBC’s emily Maitlis. ‘That’s the bit 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.’

An­drew also again re­jects the claim by one of Ep­stein’s vic­tims, Vir­ginia Roberts, that he had sex with her when she was 17.

The prince says he does not even re­mem­ber meet­ing Miss Roberts, de­spite the ex­is­tence of a pho­to­graph show­ing him with his arm around the teenager’s bare waist along­side Ep­stein’s al­leged ‘madam’ Ghis­laine Maxwell.

‘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?’ asks Miss Maitlis.

‘I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of ever meet­ing this lady, none what­so­ever,’ An­drew replies.

‘You don’t re­mem­ber meet­ing her?’ the in­ter­viewer asks. ‘No,’ An­drew firmly states. The full in­ter­view, which was con­ducted at Buck­ing­ham Palace, will be shown on BBC Two at 9pm tonight in a News­night spe­cial: Prince An­drew & The Ep­stein Scan­dal.

Ac­cord­ing to royal sources, the pro­gramme makes for un­com­fort­able view­ing at times, but, they say, is a ‘no holds barred’ dis­cus­sion of the Ep­stein case.

Filmed on Thurs­day, the Mail un­der­stands that, over 45 min­utes, the Queen’s son was ‘ma­chine-gunned’ with ques­tions about ev­ery­thing from his fam­ily to his sex life in ex­cru­ci­at­ing de­tail.

The palace did not ask for any ques­tions to be sub­mit­ted in ad­vance, and no as­sur­ances were given. One of those present claimed the Queen’s nor­mally rather pompous and gar­ru­lous son was sur­pris­ingly ‘hum­ble and can­did’.

‘Maitlis doesn’t pull her punches and [peo­ple] were winc­ing slightly at times but

‘Sur­pris­ingly hum­ble and can­did’

he didn’t shy away from an­swer­ing a sin­gle ques­tion,’ said one.

It is highly un­usual for a mem­ber of the Royal Fam­ily to speak about some­thing so per­sonal and con­tro­ver­sial in a one-on-one in­ter­view. Only the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles, both speak­ing about their failed mar­riage, have done so. Both pro­grammes were con­sid­ered dis­as­trous for the monar­chy.

An­drew – long be­lieved to be the Queen’s favourite son – in­formed his mother about the in­ter­view in ad­vance and was, ap­par­ently, given her bless­ing.

A source close to the prince said: ‘He wouldn’t do any­thing with­out dis­cussing it with her majesty first.

A Buck­ing­ham Palace spokesman added: ‘The Queen is aware of the in­ter­view.’

It is the first time the prince has been pub­licly grilled about his friend­ship with the Amer­i­can sex abuser who was found dead in his New York prison cell in Au­gust while await­ing trial for sex-traf­fick­ing.

He has been dogged by the scan­dal since 2010, when he was pho­tographed vis­it­ing the dis­graced Wall Street money man in New York fol­low­ing Ep­stein’s re­lease from jail fol­low­ing a con­vic­tion for pros­ti­tut­ing mi­nors.

He lost his job as a rov­ing UK trade am­bas­sador as a re­sult of the out­cry.

Since then the prince has been forced to deny claims by Ep­stein’s teenage ‘sex slave’ Miss Roberts that she was flown to Lon­don on the bil­lion­aire’s jet, the ‘Lolita Ex­press’, for sex with the prince.

She claims Miss Maxwell told her: ‘I want you to do for him what you do for Ep­stein.’

Miss Roberts, now a 35-year-old mother, al­leges that it was one of three oc­ca­sions she was forced to have sex with the prince, which also in­cluded an ‘orgy’ at Ep­stein’s home in the US Vir­gin Is­lands. In the face of the prince’s de­nials she has said ‘he knows the truth and I know the truth’ and re­cently said he de­serves to be sent to prison.

Buck­ing­ham Palace has al­ways called the al­le­ga­tions ‘false and with­out any foun­da­tion’, say­ing ‘any sug­ges­tion of im­pro­pri­ety with un­der-age mi­nors was cat­e­gor­i­cally un­true’.

Miss Maxwell has al­ways de­nied be­ing in­volved in a sex-traf­fick­ing net­work run by Ep­stein. This week’s bomb­shell in­ter­view took place in the grand south draw­ing room of the palace.

‘It’s quite raw and it’s emo­tional,’ a source said, ‘But he doesn’t shy away from an­swer­ing any­thing – and I mean any­thing – and hopes this hon­esty will en­able him to draw a line un­der things once and for all.’

Pri­vately, palace of­fi­cials ad­mit that An­drew’s de­ci­sion to al­low him­self to be ques­tioned on tele­vi­sion is a huge gam­ble and ‘may all go hor­ri­bly wrong’.

But one in­sisted: ‘There’s two nar­ra­tives about the duke. The first that he is some sort of hor­ri­ble, seedy per­son, the sec­ond – from those who ac­tu­ally know him – that he is de­cent, honourable, kind and is con­tin­u­ally be­ing cru­ci­fied for mis­takes he has al­ready held his hands up to. He has hon­estly, straight­for­wardly ad­dressed some dif­fi­cult ques­tions and hope­fully that au­then­tic­ity will al­low peo­ple to see the real nar­ra­tive.’

It is un­der­stood that An­drew is em­phatic in his de­nials when he is asked by Maitlis whether he had sex with Miss Roberts.

The prince will also claim that he vis­ited Ep­stein in the States in 2010 only to tell him that he could no longer have any con­tact with

him be­cause he felt this was the ‘honourable’ thing to do.

A mem­ber of Miss Roberts’ le­gal team, Jack Scarola, said he would like the prince to sub­mit to an in­ter­view un­der oath in­stead of giv­ing state­ments to the me­dia that carry ‘lit­tle weight’. He said there was an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into those in­volved in fa­cil­i­tat­ing Ep­stein’s abuse and An­drew ‘would be a key wit­ness’.

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