In a shocking move, Prince Andrew released a statement on Wednesday announcing his decision to “step back from public duties” following his bombshell interview with the BBC about his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” he said in the statement.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
Since the interview aired on Saturday night in the U.K., the Queen’s second son has been widely criticized for not showing empathy for the victims of Epstein — who died by suicide in jail in New York City in August while awaiting trial on multiple sex charges — and for his decision to stay with at the financier’s New York home in December 2010. That came just months after Epstein had served 13 months of an 18 month sentence for procuring a minor for prostitution.
Andrew also said he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges she was forced to have sex with the royal three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein when she was 17 years old.
Prince Andrew initially believed that his controversial interview went “quite well.” On Sunday, Andrew, 59, accompanied his mother Queen Elizabeth, 93, to church at Windsor and is reported to have told her that he thought the interview was a success. Buckingham Palace won’t confirm conversations between members of the family, but say that she was “aware” of the interview.
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But the deputy editor of the BBC show Newsnight told colleagues at a BBC news program that the Duke was “pretty relaxed” in the aftermath. Stewart Maclean said, “I think he was relieved that it was over. He expected it to be bracing. In truth it was more bracing than he was expecting from the off. But, really, given that it was a Newsnight interview, he shouldn’t have expected anything else.”
As the fallout continues, several businesses and charities pulled their support from Andrew’s royal work. The FBI is continuing their investigation into Epstein and his associates, and it remains to be seen whether Andrew will be brought in to offer a testimony.