In Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview with BBC’s “Newsnight” program on Saturday, the Duke of York said that he’d met financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 1999.
That claim is now being called into question after multiple media outlets surfaced a March 2011 letter from the prince’s former private secretary, Alastair Watson, saying that the royal and Epstein were first introduced in “the early 1990s.” At the time, Watson also denied any “insinuations and innuendos” about Andrew.
That directly contradicts the prince’s comment on Saturday, when he said that the two “met through his [Epstein’s] girlfriend back in 1999.”
In a comment to HuffPost by email on Tuesday, Buckingham Palace said, “The Duke’s words in his interview speak for themselves.”
The palace did not comment on the “speculation” that the prince is contemplating a second TV interview about his relationship with Epstein after his catastrophic first attempt over the weekend.
A royal source told Vanity Fair in an article published Tuesday that there were “rumors swirling that Andrew wants to do another interview.”
“Andrew hasn’t drawn a line under it,” the unnamed source told the outlet. “He wants the chance to put right the things he didn’t say. ‘Newsnight’ gave him the chance to show some remorse. He was asked if there was anything else he wanted to say. It was an open goal — he didn’t grasp it, and I think he sees that now.”
In the interview, Andrew was raked over the coals for not expressing enough remorse for Epstein’s victims and for denying that he ever met or had sexual relations with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has alleged that at age 17 she was raped by the prince. He has repeatedly denied having any kind of sexual relations with Giuffre.
The duke also gave bumbling answers to serious questions, like saying he was “too honorable” to decline to stay at Epstein’s house.
He also failed to condemn Epstein’s behavior in any sort of strongly worded terms when interviewer Emily Maitlis asked if the prince regretted his association with the financier.
“Do I regret that he [Epstein] has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes,” the prince said.
“Unbecoming?” Maitlis fired back. “He was a sex offender.”
Since the interview, companies involved with Andrew’s [email protected] program, which is meant to boost entrepreneurs, have seemingly distanced themselves from the royal. The logos of KPMG, AstraZeneca, Barclays, Cisco, Standard Chartered and Bosch have all disappeared from the supporters’ page of the website.
On Wednesday, the Duke of York announced in a statement that he was stepping back from public life as the fallout from his relationship with Epstein had “become a major disruption to my family’s work.”
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” he said.
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