Prince Andrew’s interview gamble backfires

Prince Andrew

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Prince Andrew

Royal’s attempt to create a new narrative around his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein labelled ‘sickening’

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The Week Staff

Monday, November 18, 2019 – 5:51am

Prince Andrew’s decision to hold a tell-all interview to explain his relationship with disgraced billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been widely criticised amid a mounting backlash from commentators and the public.

“If, as many royal observers have claimed, the Duke of York’s decision to submit himself to an Emily Maitlis grilling represented a colossal gamble by a man desperate to make the flow of negative headlines dry up, then it appears he has bet the house on red only for it to come up black,” says The Guardian.

In an at-times uncomfortable round of questioning, the prince repeatedly denied having sex with the 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, sought to justify his decision to stay with Epstein in 2010 after allegations of possible child sex offences had come to light and offered “little in the way of an apology or remorse”, reports the BBC.

Camilla Tominey in The Daily Telegraph writes “while regret has clearly been expressed in the interview, the public may regard Andrew’s admission to ‘letting the side down’ as somewhat of an understatement”.

“Like all apologies by members of the Firm, the sorrow often appears to be expressed for the situation the royal finds themselves in – rather than their own culpability,” she adds.

Hannah Bardell, SNP spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, went further describing the interview as “sickening”.

“Prince Andrew literally has no remorse or regard for the women abused and clearly does not see the problem with being pals with Epstein… The systematic abuse of power is unbelievable,” she said.

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Camilla Long in The Times says “the interview reminded me of interviews I’ve conducted with people who’d spent too much time with men like Silvio Berlusconi. It proved that our politicians nowhere near have the monopoly on being earth-shatteringly useless in positions of responsibility. You could imagine the PR sitting just out of shot, head in hands, as he trotted out the ‘honourable’ line and described Epstein’s dungeon as ‘convenient’.”

Many have questioned the decision to hold the interview in the first place, with the prince’s PR guru Jason Stein believed to have quit just two weeks before it was held after advising him not to go ahead with it.

Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski told The Independent: “I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it”.

“It was like watching a man in quicksand and unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out,” he said.

The interview will have done little to create a new narrative around his relationship with Epstein and could very well harm Prince Andrew’s already fragile relationship with both the media and the public.

Tominey says “the hullaballoo surrounding Epstein will only serve to confirm [Prince] Charles’s fears that the public will have no truck with minor ‘hangers on’ once the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are no longer with us”.

“While she is still alive, the sovereign remains Andrew’s most vocal advocate within the royal family but once she is gone, the Duke will cut a very isolated figure,” she says.

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