ANDREW: I LET QUEEN DOWN
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
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’.