It’s a royal interview like no other.
In a face-to-face talk with BBC Newsnight airing Saturday, Prince Andrew spoke openly about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegations of Virginia Roberts (now Virginia Giuffre), who claims 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 the disgraced financier.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” the Duke of York, 59, told Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis about Giuffre’s allegations. “It just never happened.”
Speaking specifically about Giuffre’s claim that he danced with her at London’s exclusive Tramp nightclub, before allegedly having sex in a mansion in the upmarket Belgravia neighborhood, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, said, “No, that couldn’t have happened because the date that’s being suggested I was at home with the children.
Andrew — who is father to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie — added, “I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon. And then because the Duchess (Sarah Ferguson) was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so, therefore, I was at home.”
“On the date that’s being suggested I was at home with the children… I’d taken Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 16, 2019
Prince Andrew tells @maitlis he was elsewhere the night it has been claimed he had his photo taken with a woman who says they had sex
In a bizarre twist, Andrew, 59, — an uncle to Prince William and Prince Harry, and younger brother of Prince Charles — also stated that he couldn’t have danced and ‘sweated profusely’ on the Tramp dancefloor as claimed by Giuffre in court papers because at the time he was suffering from a medical condition that made it impossible for him to perspire.
“I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at and I simply…it was almost impossible for me to sweat,” Andrew said. “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.”
“I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 16, 2019
Prince Andrew disputes claims he had a sweaty dance with a woman who made allegations against him https://t.co/gfKvOEFG9p #Newsnight pic.twitter.com/7ZKscPB5lX
Andrew also claimed that he couldn’t have had sex with Giuffre in New York on the date she suggests because he had flown to Boston the previous day.
“I was at a dinner for The Outward Bound Trust in New York and then I flew up to Boston the following day and then on the day that she says that this occurred, they’d (Epstein and Giuffre) already left to go the island before I got back from Boston. So, I don’t think that could have happened at all,” he said.
Matters became slightly trickier for Andrew when Maitlis raised the issues of a photograph showing the royal with his arm around Giuffre’s waist — which is thought to have been taken inside the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on March 10, 2001. Giuffre was 17 years old at the time.
“I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken,” Andrew told Maitlis, before questioning the authenticity of the picture itself because he’s wearing his “traveling clothes” as opposed to his regular suit and tie. He even suggested that his left hand has been photoshopped onto Giuffre’s side in the image.
“I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken,” he said. “I don’t remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs and I am not entirely convinced that…I mean that is…that is what I would describe as me in that…in that picture but I can’t…we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand on her whatever it is, left… left side.”
One thing remained constant throughout the interview, however: Andrew’s regret at having remained in touch with Epstein — who died by suicide in jail in New York City in August — long after his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
"It was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do."— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 16, 2019
The Duke of York speaks to @maitlis about his links to Jeffrey Epstein and his decision to stay with him
MORE: https://t.co/c2rYXXMwcu#Newsnight pic.twitter.com/iajFWI2r1H
The royal, who first encountered Epstein in 1999, met with the 66-year-old millionaire a few months after his December 2010 prison release and stayed with him in New York, reportedly for four days.
Earlier this year footage emerged of Andrew at the door of Epstein’s home during that visit. This was followed by a set of photographs showing the two men walking together in Central Park.
Throughout the interview, Andrew consistently admitted his regret at having met with Epstein in New York and suggested that it was brought by a desire to end their friendship face-to-face.
He claimed he was “transitioning out of the Navy at the time” and was not aware of the sexual events taking place at Epstein’s mansion.
“The other aspect of this is that…is that I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time,” Andrew said. “I don’t wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. As far as I was aware, they were staff, they were people that were working for him, doing things.“
The royal continued, “I…as it were, I interacted with them if you will to say ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, but I didn’t, if you see what I mean, interact with them in a way that was, you know ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘Why are you here?’ ‘What’s going on?‘ ”
“At the time there was no indication to me... that was what he was doing.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 16, 2019
The Duke of York tells @maitlis he never witnessed any concerning behaviour during his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide while awaiting trial
As for the effect that the allegations have had on the rest of the royal family — who have supported Andrew throughout — the duke says that he doesn’t believe the matter has been “damaging to the Queen at all.”
It has, however, taken a toll on his own life — and that of his close family. “It has been, what I would describe as a constant sore in the family,” Andrew said. “We all knew him (Epstein) and I think that if we have a conversation about it, it’s… we are all left with the same thing: ‘what on earth happened?’ or ‘how did he get to where he was?’, ‘what did he do?’, how did he do it?’ ”
It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty+pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs. Andrew is a true+real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness + goodness @TheDukeOfYork pic.twitter.com/qg40lU4Qkf— Sarah Ferguson (@SarahTheDuchess) November 15, 2019
“It’s just a constant sort of gnaw. I mean this first came out in 2011 and it was a surprise to… to all of us because the photographs were published at a separate time to when I was there and then we sort of questioned what on earth is going on and as a family we discussed it,” Andrew added.
“And then in 2015 when the allegations were made in the deposition, there was a sort of…there was a sort of…this is the immediate family, not the wider family. The wider family couldn’t be more supportive but the immediate family, it was well, what’s all this about? And we all just were at a loss,” he said.