Amid tur­moil, Prince An­drew to step back from royal du­ties

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Gre­gory Katz

LON­DON >> Fol­low­ing days of tur­moil that have dam­aged the Bri­tish royal fam­ily’s rep­u­ta­tion, Prince An­drew an­nounced Wed­nes­day that he will step back from pub­lic du­ties be­cause of his as­so­ci­a­tion with a no­to­ri­ous Amer­i­can sex of­fender.

The sec­ond son of Queen El­iz­a­beth II said in a state­ment that his ties to Jef­frey Ep­stein had be­come a “ma­jor dis­rup­tion” to the royal fam­ily’s char­i­ta­ble work. It was un­clear whether the change was a tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent shift in his role.

An­drew said he had ob­tained the queen’s per­mis­sion to step away. He also said he was will­ing to help any law en­force­ment agency with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The scan­dal has rocked the royal fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly since a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view on Satur­day failed to ease the many ques­tions about An­drew’s links to Ep­stein.

For a se­nior royal to step away from his du­ties is ex­tremely unusual and re­flects the de­gree to which char­i­ties and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions had ques­tioned their as­so­ci­a­tions with him in re­cent days.

An­drew said his his­tory with Ep­stein had dis­rupted his fam­ily’s work and “the valu­able work go­ing on in the many or­ga­ni­za­tions and char­i­ties that I am proud to sup­port.”

The prince said he re­gret­ted his ties to the bil­lion­aire in­vestor, who took his own life in Au­gust while in jail on sex-traf­fick­ing charges. An­drew said he “deeply sym­pa­thizes” with Ep­stein’s vic­tims, many of whom were un­der­age vic­tims of traf­fick­ing.

In the in­ter­view,

the prince seemed to show no re­morse for his re­la­tion­ship with Ep­stein. Wed­nes­day’s state­ment made clear that An­drew and his ad­vis­ers now un­der­stand how dam­ag­ing the in­ter­view was.

Ep­stein’s sui­cide “has left many unan­swered ques­tions, par­tic­u­larly for his vic­tims, and I deeply sym­pa­thize with ev­ery­one who has been af­fected and wants some form of clo­sure,” An­drew said. “I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to re­build their lives.”

Like most se­nior mem­bers of the royal fam­ily, An­drew was a pa­tron for char­i­ties and other civic en­deav­ors, lend­ing his name and the back­ing of the monar­chy to the good works of all man­ner of in­sti­tu­tions.

Af­ter the in­ter­view, some char­i­ties and uni­ver­si­ties said they were re­view­ing their as­so­ci­a­tion with the prince. And ma­jor businesses, in­clud­ing Bar­clays and BT, dis­tanced them­selves from An­drew in char­i­ties they were in­volved with.

An­drew has faced ques­tions over his links to Ep­stein for years, and he hoped the in­ter­view with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis would ease the pres­sure. The move back­fired.

The in­ter­view cen­tered on whether he had had sex with Vir­ginia Gi­uf­fre, who says she was traf­ficked by Ep­stein. Though An­drew de­nied the claims, his an­swers drew scorn. Gi­uf­fre said she had sex with An­drew on three oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing twice when she was 17.

Crit­ics said An­drew came across as in­sen­si­tive and ar­ro­gant — par­tic­u­larly in an era in which so­cial me­dia has made even the rich and the pow­er­ful seem more ac­ces­si­ble.

The prince de­fended his pre­vi­ous friend­ship with Ep­stein be­cause of the con­tacts it pro­vided when he was pre­par­ing for his role as Bri­tain’s spe­cial trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The an­nounce­ment that he was leav­ing his pub­lic role, at least for a time, re­called memories of the his­toric de­ci­sion by King Ed­ward VIII to ab­di­cate in 1936 so that he could marry Wal­lis Simp­son, an Amer­i­can di­vorcee. The queen’s fa­ther Ge­orge VI suc­ceeded Ed­ward.

His­to­rian Ju­dith Row­botham of the Univer­sity of Ply­mouth said there were “plenty” of par­al­lels be­tween the king’s ab­di­ca­tion and An­drew’s de­ci­sion to halt his royal role.

She said she was not sur­prised by An­drew’s an­nounce­ment and that the cri­sis could have “es­ca­lated” if he had not stepped down.

“I think it will be a great sad­ness for the queen,” she said of El­iz­a­beth, the 93-year-old monarch.

The queen did not com­ment on her son’s de­ci­sion dur­ing an ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day night. She has never spo­ken out on the mat­ter.

DAVID PARKER — POOL PHOTO

Bri­tain’s Prince An­drew vis­its the Ak­zoNo­bel Dec­o­ra­tive Paints fa­cil­ity in Slough, Eng­land.

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