Britain’s Prince Andrew is stepping back from his royal duties amid the scandal involving his friendship with deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York announced Wednesday that he had asked his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, for permission to withdraw from public duties for the “foreseeable future” as the Royal Family has had to deal with a “major disruption” due to the fallout from his association with the late billionaire who died in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
(Video: Fox Business)
The announcement came days after a BBC interview which was intended to clear the air around Andrew’s friendship with Epstein but only drew more attention and was a public relations disaster.
“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 organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” the prince said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.
Breaking news: A statement issued by the Duke of York who will be stepping down from public duties for the “foreseeable future”. pic.twitter.com/icSTLIiY5Z
— Victoria Arbiter (@victoriaarbiter) November 20, 2019
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” the second son of the Queen said.
“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 sympathize 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,” he said, adding, “Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
During the taped BBC Newsnight interview that aired Saturday, the 59-year-old royal again denied that he ever had any sexual relations with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged “sex slaves,” when she was 17.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he told BBC reporter Emily Maitlis, adding his regret over maintaining his friendship with Epstein in the wake of his conviction in Florida in 2008.
Prince Andrew says he has ‘no recollection’ of ever meeting one of the women accusing him of sexual impropriety.
The duke made the claims in a BBC interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
— ITV News (@itvnews) November 15, 2019
The interview set off a firestorm of criticism for the prince, as former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter described it as a truck crash, according to NBC News.
“People are scratching their heads in the U.K. as to how he has made a bad situation even worse,” NBC News royal contributor Camilla Tominey said.
Organizations and companies such as Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG have begun to distance themselves from the royal in the wake of the controversy.
BREAKING: Sky News understands accountancy firm KPMG has not renewed its sponsorship of the Duke of York’s ‘[email protected]’ initiative.
This follows Prince Andrew’s interview on the BBC about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 18, 2019
“It was more than just bad publicity for Prince Andrew, it was clearly damaging the wider institution of the Royal Family,” BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond remarked, noting that Andrew must have realized that the interview had “upset a lot of people..”
The Duke of York’s announcement Wednesday to step back from his royal duties was “a big step,” Dymond added and one that was “pretty much without precedent in modern times.”