The Duke of York has faced widespread criticism over his links to Epstein
Duke’s televised attempt to explain his relationship with the convicted sex offender has prompted fury and ridicule
Prince Andrew is standing by his decision to take part in a “car crash” BBC interview about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, sources have told the broadcaster.
The Royal was grilled by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis on Saturday over claims that he had sex with a then 17-year-old girl in 2001. But while his responses have prompted widespread mockery and anger, sources close to the Prince are insisting that he addressed the issues head-on with “honesty and humility”, the BBC reports.
As commentators worldwide give their verdicts on his explanations for his relationship with Epstein, here are six things we learned from the extraordinary interview.
1. Still in touch with Epstein’s ex-girlfriend
The Duke of York has previously admitted that he met US financier Epstein in 1999 through the billionaire’s then girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of helping Epstein to groom girls – claims that she denies.
Maxwell, daughter of late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, has “generally kept a low profile since claims about Epstein began to emerge”, says the BBC. However, Andrew admitted on Newsnight that he met up with her earlier this year, before Epstein was found dead after apparently hanging himself in his Manhattan prison cell in August.
Describing his meeting with Maxwell, the Prince said: “She was here (in the UK) doing some rally.”
When asked if they spoke about Epstein, he said: “There wasn’t anything to discuss about him because he wasn’t in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on.”
Andrew also appeared to have forgotten when Epstein was arrested, saying: “This was early spring I think, it was long… because when was he arrested?”
After being told that the US tycoon had been arrested in July, the Royal added: “No, it was before July.”
2. Met with Epstein in 2010 ‘to put an end to the friendship’
Despite repeatedly claiming that he and Epstein “weren’t that close”, Andrew admitted going to stay in his New York mansion in December 2010 – some two years after the financier was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, for which he served 13 months in jail.
The Duke told interviewer Maitlis that he “went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together”.
“I took the judgement call that because this was serious, and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it, I had to go and see him and talk to him,” he explained.
When asked why he had stayed for several days, the Royal said: “It was a convenient place to stay.”
3. Memories of an “unusual” meal at Pizza Express in Woking
Prince Andrew is accused of having had sex with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts – surname now Giuffre – on 10 March 2001 after meeting her at a London nightclub.
However, he told Gaitlis that he had an alibi for that date: he was at a Pizza Express restaurant in Surrey.
“I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon,” he said.
“And then because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there.
In what the HuffPost calls a “particularly surreal moment” in the interview, Andrew went on to explain why he was so sure about his activities on that date.
“Going to a Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing to do, a very unusual thing to do,” he said. “I’ve never been… I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.”
4. Theories about photographs with Giuffre
Andrew insisted that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre, despite the existence of a widely circulated photograph that appears to show him with his arm around the then teenager’s waist, with Maxwell smiling in the background.
He claimed that his outfit and his demeanour in the photo indicate that parts of it may have been doctored.
“I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because when I go out in London, I wear a suit and a tie,” he said. “That’s what I would describe as… those are my travelling clothes if I’m going overseas.”
He also noted that the photo shows his hand on the woman’s waist. “I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do,” he claimed.
5. He cannot sweat
Giuffre has claimed that Andrew was “sweating profusely” during the evening on which she claims they had sex – but the Prince insists that at that time, he was physically incapable of sweating.
“I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time and that was… yes, I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at and I simply… it was almost impossible for me to sweat, he told Maitlis.
“And it’s only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I am starting to be able to do that again.”
6. No regrets about time with Epstein
In perhaps his most widely criticised interview response, Andrew said that he did not regret his relationship with Epstein.
“The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful,” the Prince told Maitlis.
Commenting on his performance, the BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond writes: “Aside from that visit to Epstein’s house in 2010, Prince Andrew does not think he has done anything wrong.”
“Not one single word of remorse,” said a headline in The Mail on Sunday, while the Sunday Mirror opted for: “No sweat… and no regret.”