If Prince Andrew hoped that a TV interview about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein would stop the flow of negative press coverage he faced, he could not have been more wrong.
A tweet posted by Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website, following the royal’s high-stakes interview with the BBC appeared to echo the thoughts of many following the Saturday night broadcast that has created headlines around the world.
“I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad,” Proctor wrote.
The Duke of York told BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis he had seen nothing that struck him as suspicious when he was around Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in August while awaiting trial on federal charges that he sexually abused underage girls and ran a sex trafficking ring. Epstein had pleaded not guilty.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has alleged that she was forced into sexual encounters with the prince while underage. In a 2015 federal court filing, Giuffre alleged Epstein forced her to perform sex acts with several prominent men, including Prince Andrew in 2001. All of them have denied the allegations.
Fanning the flames
The interview, recorded Thursday, was the first time Prince Andrew has spoken about the accusations publicly, though he has repeatedly denied them through statements issued by Buckingham Palace.
He chose to stay at Epstein’s home, the prince said, because it was “convenient” and “honorable.”
On camera, in Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s second son said he had taken his elder daughter to a party at a pizza restaurant on the night it is claimed he had sex with Roberts Giuffre. For many years, the prince claimed, he could not sweat, countering the allegations made by Roberts Giuffre that he was “sweating profusely” before they had sex when she was 17.
Asked by Maitlis whether he felt any “guilt, regret or shame” about his behavior or friendship with Epstein, the prince said only that it was “the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010.”
“Do I regret the fact he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.” said the prince of Epstein, to which Maitlis replies: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.” The prince then responds: “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite, I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender.”
It was also revealed that Epstein was invited to the 18th birthday party of his daughter, Princess Beatrice, even though at the time Epstein had been subject to an arrest warrant for the sexual assault of a minor.