‘I let the side down’: Prince Andrew tells BBC’s Emily Maitlis he was wrong to stay with Jeffrey Epstein but has ‘no recollection’ of meeting billionaire paedophile’s ‘slave’ who says she had sex with him three times
- Duke of York has faced scrutiny over friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein
- Andrew said he kicks himself ‘daily’ for staying with Epstein after his conviction
- Virginia Roberts alleges she was coerced into having sex with Andrew 3 times
- Claims she was flown to London by Epstein on his ‘Lolita Express’ jet to see Duke
- Duke said he had ‘no recollection whatsoever’ of meeting accuser Miss Roberts
- Newsnight special with Andrew will be broadcast on BBC 2 at 9pm on Saturday
- Andrew strenuously denies allegations of ‘impropriety with underage minors’
Published: | Updated:
Prince Andrew has admitted he let the Queen and the Royal Family down by becoming involved with a paedophile billionaire.
In a ‘make or break’ TV interview about the scandal, he said he regretted going to stay with Jeffrey Epstein in New York after the financier’s release from prison on child sex offences.
‘The problem was the fact that once he had been convicted I stayed with him.
‘That’s the bit I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,’ he told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis.
‘The problem was the fact that once he had been convicted I stayed with him,’ the duke told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis
Andrew (left) also again rejects the claim by one of Epstein’s (right) victims, Virginia Roberts, that he had sex with her when she was 17
Andrew also again rejects the claim by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, that he had sex with her when she was 17.
The prince says he does not even remember meeting Miss Roberts, despite the existence of a photograph showing him with his arm around the teenager’s bare waist alongside Epstein’s alleged ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell.
‘She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp nightclub in London. She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?’ asks Miss Maitlis.
The programme will feature Andrew’s confrontation with allegations made by Epstein accuser Miss Roberts that she was flown to London on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the ‘Lolita Express’, for sex with the prince who she has called ‘an abuser’
Jack Scarola, a leading member of Virginia Roberts’ legal team, told Mail Online he would like the duke to submit to an interview ‘under oath’ instead of giving statements to the media that carry ‘little weight’
Virginia Roberts (pictured) alleges she was coerced by paedophile US businessman Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the Duke, into having sex with Andrew on three occasions
‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,’ Andrew replies.
‘You don’t remember meeting her?’ the interviewer asks.
‘No,’ Andrew firmly states.
Jeffrey Epstein was ‘found hanging in his jail cell using a paper bed sheet’ – authorities say it was suicide but his brother claims: ‘He didn’t kill himself’
The cell Epstein would have been held in have ‘paper level sheets’, a steel frame bed you cannot move, no light fixtures and no bars
Jeffrey Epstein was found ‘unresponsive’ at around 6.30am in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019 – a month after his arrest.
Prison staff were unable to revive him. He was then rushed to the infirmary inside the jail.
From there, he was placed in an ambulance and taken to New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.
Since Epstein’s suicide, there has been widespread speculation as to how he managed to kill himself after an earlier failed attempt to take his own life weeks earlier.
Prison procedure dictates that an inmate goes through a screening process to determine if they are at risk of harming or killing themselves.
Critics, including his brother, have suggested he was ‘bumped off’.
Mark Epstein says he has seen no evidence to support the New York City Medical Examiner’s conclusion that his brother committed suicide.
He added: ‘Jeffrey knew a lot of stuff about a lot of people’.
The full interview, which was conducted at Buckingham Palace, will be shown on BBC Two at 9pm tonight in a Newsnight special: Prince Andrew & The Epstein Scandal.
According to royal sources, the programme makes for uncomfortable viewing at times, but, they say, is a ‘no holds barred’ discussion of the Epstein case.
Filmed on Thursday, the Mail understands that, over 45 minutes, the Queen’s son was ‘machine-gunned’ with questions about everything from his family to his sex life in excruciating detail.
The palace did not ask for any questions to be submitted in advance, and no assurances were given. One of those present claimed the Queen’s normally rather pompous and garrulous son was surprisingly ‘humble and candid’.
‘Maitlis doesn’t pull her punches and [people] were wincing slightly at times but he didn’t shy away from answering a single question,’ said one.
It is highly unusual for a member of the Royal Family to speak about something so personal and controversial in a one-on-one interview. Only the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles, both speaking about their failed marriage, have done so. Both programmes were considered disastrous for the monarchy.
Andrew – long believed to be the Queen’s favourite son – informed his mother about the interview in advance and was, apparently, given her blessing.
A source close to the prince said: ‘He wouldn’t do anything without discussing it with her majesty first.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman added: ‘The Queen is aware of the interview.’
It is the first time the prince has been publicly grilled about his friendship with the American sex abuser who was found dead in his New York prison cell in August while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.
He has been dogged by the scandal since 2010, when he was photographed visiting the disgraced Wall Street money man in New York following Epstein’s release from jail following a conviction for prostituting minors.
He lost his job as a roving UK trade ambassador as a result of the outcry.
Since then the prince has been forced to deny claims by Epstein’s teenage ‘sex slave’ Miss Roberts that she was flown to London on the billionaire’s jet, the ‘Lolita Express’, for sex with the prince.
She claims Miss Maxwell told her: ‘I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein.’
A view of Jeffrey Epstein’s stone mansion on Little St. James Island (pictured above) – where Andrew was accused of taking part in an orgy in 2015 court documents
Miss Roberts, now a 35-year-old mother, alleges that it was one of three occasions she was forced to have sex with the prince, which also included an ‘orgy’ at Epstein’s home in the US Virgin Islands. In the face of the prince’s denials she has said ‘he knows the truth and I know the truth’ and recently said he deserves to be sent to prison.
Buckingham Palace has always called the allegations ‘false and without any foundation’, saying ‘any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors was categorically untrue’.
Miss Maxwell has always denied being involved in a sex-trafficking network run by Epstein. This week’s bombshell interview took place in the grand south drawing room of the palace.
‘It’s quite raw and it’s emotional,’ a source said, ‘But he doesn’t shy away from answering anything – and I mean anything – and hopes this honesty will enable him to draw a line under things once and for all.’
Privately, palace officials admit that Andrew’s decision to allow himself to be questioned on television is a huge gamble and ‘may all go horribly wrong’.
FBI agents were seen raiding Jeffrey Epstein’s US Virgin Island Little St James in August – it earned the nickname ‘paedo island’
But one insisted: ‘There’s two narratives about the duke. The first that he is some sort of horrible, seedy person, the second – from those who actually know him – that he is decent, honourable, kind and is continually being crucified for mistakes he has already held his hands up to. He has honestly, straightforwardly addressed some difficult questions and hopefully that authenticity will allow people to see the real narrative.’
It is understood that Andrew is emphatic in his denials when he is asked by Maitlis whether he had sex with Miss Roberts.
The prince will also claim that he visited Epstein in the States in 2010 only to tell him that he could no longer have any contact with him because he felt this was the ‘honourable’ thing to do.
A member of Miss Roberts’ legal team, Jack Scarola, said he would like the prince to submit to an interview under oath instead of giving statements to the media that carry ‘little weight’. He said there was an FBI investigation into those involved in facilitating Epstein’s abuse and Andrew ‘would be a key witness’.
And he’s STILL saying he can’t remember this
By Christian Gysin for the Daily Mail
The infamous photograph of Prince Andrew smiling as he stands with his left arm around the waist of a young Virginia Roberts has dogged him for years.
Both the photo and the claims made by the young American – that she had sex with the prince in society hostess Ghislaine Maxwell’s central London home – refuse to go away.
Miss Roberts maintains the photograph was taken in March 2001 when paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Miss Maxwell and Andrew returned to Miss Maxwell’s mews house after dinner and a visit to Tramp nightclub in Mayfair.
The infamous photograph of Prince Andrew smiling as he stands with his left arm around the waist of a young Virginia Roberts has dogged him for years
Miss Roberts, who was 17, said the group went upstairs and it was then that she asked Epstein to take a shot of her with the divorced prince. Miss Maxwell is in the background.
She later revealed she wanted to show the photograph to her mother and, after the picture was taken, Epstein and Miss Maxwell left the pair alone.
Today the prince will tell Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis he does not recall meeting Miss Roberts.
The clear implication from his answer on the BBC is, therefore, that the photograph is a fake.
The picture was first published by the Mail on Sunday in 2011 after the newspaper found Miss Roberts living in a small bungalow in New South Wales.
In recent months, Andrew’s friends have tried to discredit the photograph – with some saying it had been doctored on a computer.
The Duke of York , speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis
Andrew is seen dressed in dark trousers and a light blue shirt with several buttons undone and with the sleeves adorned with cufflinks. This was a ‘look’ he favoured at the time. Only a few months earlier a photograph was taken of the prince in almost exactly the same clothing.
Sources close to Andrew have also claimed his fingers ‘don’t look right’ in the photograph.
However Andrew has chubby fingers and in a shot taken of him at around the same time this appears to be the case. His fingers in the shot with Miss Roberts also look remarkably similar to other photos from the time.
Sources close to Andrew question his height relative to Miss Roberts. The prince is around 6ft, while Miss Roberts is said to be around 5ft 8in. The picture does seem to reflect this.
There is clearly the sight of a flash as the shutter button was pressed by Epstein and the style of the window matches Miss Maxwell’s then home.
Photographic experts point out that the practice of manipulating images was in its infancy when the picture was taken.
He’s betting everything on a last spin of the wheel – and the stakes could not be higher… and, crucially, RICHARD KAY asks: if Andrew can sit down with the BBC, will he be willing to face questions from the FBI?
Comment by Richard Kay for the Daily Mail
Prince Andrew’s judgment, or the distinct lack of it, has long been an integral part of his character.
All too often, a reckless self- indulgence has obscured his other qualities: being well-meaning and trying to put his best foot forward.
His decision, therefore, to give a no-holds-barred interview to the BBC about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein — and, crucially, the claims that he had sex with a teenage girl — is more than just an air-clearing exercise.
It is the act of a gambler — and the stakes could not be higher.
For make no mistake, by sitting down and answering questions from Newsnight’s formidable presenter Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew is putting his reputation on the line.
Prince Andrew is pictured with Epstein in Central Park in New York in February 2011
The omens for such television confessionals are not good. Neither Princess Diana unburdening herself to Panorama, nor Prince Charles opening up to Jonathan Dimbleby, were anything other than unintentional acts of self-harm. Both are remembered chiefly for their acknowledgement of mutual acts of adultery.
If candour alone sufficed, then Andrew’s remarkable admission that in his foolishness he had let the Queen down will be the stand-out moment from tonight’s broadcast.
This is the gambling equivalent of betting the house on the last spin of the roulette wheel — and Andrew has put it all on black.
While the BBC is naturally patting itself on the back for pulling off this great scoop, the Prince will be nervously wondering if this undoubtedly courageous decision was the right one.
So why did he do it? Quite simply, he felt he had no alternative. For months the rumours and gossip about Andrew and Epstein — and the explosive allegations from Virginia Roberts that she had been flown to London to have sex with the Prince — have hung around the Duke of York like a bad smell.
Far from ending the speculation, Epstein’s death at his own hand in a New York prison cell in August served only to revive the sordid stories of orgies, massage parlours and a private jet nicknamed the ‘Lolita Express’.
One story in particular persisted, the claim from Roberts that she and Andrew had sex together on no fewer than three occasions.
And then, of course, there was the apparently ‘compromising’ photograph of the Prince with his arm proprietorially around the bare midriff of the then 17-year-old girl.
Ever since these stories first surfaced, when prosecutors in the U.S. finally got to grips with Epstein’s disgusting activities, Andrew has relied on the usual sources to distance himself.
Prince Andrew has previously denied being aware of any of Epstein’s illegal activities. He is pictured above in 2010 answering the door of Epstein’s New York mansion
The allegations, said friends, were preposterous and untrue. But the arrest of the billionaire financier this summer, against the background of the #Me Too movement, dramatically changed the optics.
Andrew’s standing and even his ability to function as a working member of the Royal Family were under threat. In September, it was reported that at least one of the Prince’s official engagements during a visit to Northern Ireland had been cancelled because of concerns that the Epstein affair would overshadow it.
He began to aggressively counter-punch. Senior Palace sources categorically denied Roberts’s claim, pouring scorn on her assertion that she and Andrew had drunk cocktails together in Tramp, the West End nightclub.
They pointed out that: ‘The Duke doesn’t drink.’ However, in Roberts’s original testimony, she said: ‘Andrew got me a cocktail from the bar and he had a drink for himself.’
More significantly, doubts were also cast on the authenticity of the infamous midriff photograph, apparently taken in the London mews home of Andrew’s friend — and Epstein’s procurer of girls — Ghislaine Maxwell, who is also in the picture.
Officials questioned whether the photograph had been manipulated, from the fingers around the girl’s waist to the discrepancy in height between the two.
Andrew, said aides, had distinctively chubby or sausage fingers. ‘They don’t look right in the picture,’ it was said.
But while all this may have muddied the waters, the cut-through and clearing the air that Andrew was hoping for did not materialise. The suspicions and innuendo would not go away and the Duke remained on the back foot. The damage to his image was worsening by the day and it threatened to overshadow the wider public perception of the Royal Family.
Moreover, the drip, drip, drip of the claims was also endangering his major charity project — Pitch@Palace in which he helps to put would-be entrepreneurs in touch with investors and mentors.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured together in New York in 2005
Rumours circulated that some of the blue chip companies involved were beginning to feel uncomfortable.
All the same, Prince Andrew did not rush into the Newsnight interview without weighing up the pros and cons. His calculation rested on this: by answering direct questions about Roberts’s claim, he knew he could be accused of lying. Dramatically, he then took the bull by the horns, first consulting the Queen, not just for her permission to film the confrontation in the South Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, but also for her approval.
Even so, the Duke agonised over the wisdom of doing it, pondering on what might go wrong as well as what might work.
In the end, his argument was simply that he had no other choice and needed to demonstrate to people that he has been telling the truth. At the same time, he knew he would have to agree to the BBC having a free-for-all in its line of questioning.
Nothing would be vetted beforehand. There were no pre-conditions. No royal has ever undergone such rigorous cross-examination. Both Diana and Charles knew what was coming in their interviews — Andrew did not.
BBC insiders tell me they were impressed with his candour and humility. For Andrew, the questioning must have been excruciating as he was interrogated about the most intimate of matters. We are told that tonight’s film comprises 50 minutes of tough, uncompromising questioning.
Last night, the BBC released two key exchanges. One about Roberts goes like this:
Maitlis: ‘She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp nightclub in London. She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?’
Andrew: ‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.’
Maitlis: ‘You don’t remember meeting her?
But it will, I suspect, be the Prince’s response to questions about why he remained friends with Epstein that will stick in the memory. For they reveal a vulnerability and show just how affecting the allegations have been.
Asked about why he continued to see Epstein after his release from prison, Andrew admits he was wrong, saying: ‘I kick myself for it on a daily basis, because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.’
For the Prince, the whole nerve- shredding exercise has been to show that he has nothing to hide, that he has been wholly honest and truthful. ‘In a way,’ says a friend, ‘he is saying “judge me”. Everything else had failed, he had no alternative.’
Now the judgment rests with the British people. But, as brave as Prince Andrew’s decision has been to speak out, some no doubt will still say that if he is prepared to sit down with the television cameras, he should surely now be prepared to subject himself to the questions of the New York Police Department and the FBI.
How Duke of York’s annual meetings with Epstein including after he was sent to jail caused Prince Andrew decades of trouble
Here is a timeline of the duke’s relationship with Epstein.
Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein ‘infrequently’, adding ‘probably no more than only once or twice a year’.
Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.
Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse. Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an ‘orgy’ on his private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park.
Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.
The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.
Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: ‘Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
‘I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.’
In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.
Buckingham Palace said the allegations are ‘categorically untrue’.
Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.
Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts.
The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001.
Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having ‘a number of inconsistencies’ and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.
Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is ‘appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes’.
Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: ‘At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.’
Mark Epstein fears that he and his children will be murdered like he claims his brother Jeffrey was after ‘sham suicide probe’
A defiant Mark Epstein is lashing out at federal officials in the wake of his brother Jeffrey’s death.
In a rare interview with Julie Brown of the Miami Herald, Mark says that the investigation into his brother’s suicide was both incomplete and inconclusive, making it impossible to determine his cause of death.
Mark also reveals that even he has seen no evidence to support the New York City Medical Examiner’s conclusion that his brother committed suicide, and cannot think of a single reason why the pedophile would have taken his own life.
He now says that he fears he or his family members could be targeted by the same individuals who may have wanted Jeffrey dead, and implores those who so quickly labeled the death a suicide to take another look at the case.
‘It’s all very suspicious, too much to be a coincidence,’ says Mark.
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Mark Epstein (above in August) says that his life and the life of his family members could be at risk in an interview with Julie Brown for the Miami Herald
In the interview, Mark makes it clear that he cannot accept the idea that his brother would want to take his own life.
‘I could see if he got a life sentence, I could then see him taking himself out, but he had a bail hearing coming up,’ explains Mark.
He later goes into more detail, arguing: ‘He had a bail hearing in two days. He agreed to be on house arrest. He was going to hire armed guards to keep an eye on him at his own expense.’
Mark then adds: ‘He was the most recognizable person on the planet. Where is he going to run and hide?’
At the same time, it is unclear how he would be able to make that determination given his own description of the relationship he had with Jeffrey prior to his death.
‘Jeffrey and I were not that close, we shared brother stuff, but I was not involved in what he was doing,’ reveals Mark.
‘When he first got in trouble he called me. We were very straight with each other. I wasn’t going to lecture him.’
Three months after his death, officials have still not released any details at all about the case.
This has left Mark concerned that he and his children could suffer a fate similar to Jeffrey’s at the hands of a person or persons that officials have no interest in trying to identify.
‘Jeffrey knew a lot of stuff about a lot of people,’ notes Mark.