Prince Andrew’s television rebuttal to claims he had sex with a teenager trafficked by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein were ridiculed in Britain on Sunday as a public relations disaster.
In a rare and detailed interview with the BBC, the queen’s third child categorically denied having sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre in 2001.
He said he has “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre, who says she was flown around the world by Epstein, and offered some eyebrow-raising details to dispute her claims.
Giuffre, who was 17 at the time, alleges she danced with the prince at London nightclub Tramp, recalling that he was sweaty.
The prince told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis he was at home on the night in question after taking one of his daughters to the Woking branch of Pizza Express, and that a medical condition linked to his service in the 1982 Falklands War meant that “it was almost impossible for me to sweat.”
There was also criticism that the prince appeared not to have understood the gravity of his association with Epstein, who killed himself in August while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
The prince said he regretted not cutting ties with Epstein after the financier pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida under a deal that required him to serve 13 months in jail and register as a sex offender. He saw Epstein following his release from custody in Florida and stayed at his New York residence for several days.
“It was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010,” Andrew said. “I kick myself for (it) on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family.”
An incredulous Maitlis responded: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.”
“NOT ONE SINGLE WORD OF REMORSE,” was the headline in the royalist Mail on Sunday, while the Sunday Mirror led with “NO SWEAT AND NO REGRET.”
The Sunday Times reported that the prince had been advised against giving the interview but chose to go ahead.
Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website, wrote of the interview on Twitter: “I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion-level bad."
Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter described the interview as "excruciating" and a "car crash."
The prince did not rule out cooperating with a U.S. investigation into Epstein’s associates, saying he would take legal advice.
“If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so,” he said.