Queen approved Prince Andrew's 'disastrous' BBC interview, says Emily Maitlis

Prince still stands by decision to appear on programme despite backlash

Matt Drake@matt_j_drake
Monday 18 November 2019 10:46
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Prince Andrew denied his accuser's account that he slept with her when she was underage
Prince Andrew denied his accuser's account that he slept with her when she was underage

Prince Andrew‘s “disastrous” interview about the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal had approval from The Queen, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has claimed.

The BBC reported Royal sources saying the Duke of York stands by his decision to discuss his relationship with the disgraced financier and rebut allegations that he slept with one of Epstein’s groomed teenagers on the flagship programme.

Prince Andrew was reportedly reluctant at first to conduct the interview but was then persuaded to do so by a top aide. The decision has since been widely condemned as a “PR disaster”.

But it has been revealed by Ms Maitlis in an article in The Times that the Newsnight interview was “approved by the Queen”.

Describing the final stages of securing the interview, Ms Maitlis writes: “We have finished laying out our pitch. An awkward moment of silence falls. And the Duke tells us he must ‘seek approval from higher up’.

“It dawns on us then that he means the Queen herself. At 8am the next day we have a message telling us to call his office. The Queen, it seems, is on board.”

However, The Telegraph reports that The Queen “did not” give her approval and only learnt of the scheduled interview after it had been set up – citing Palace insiders.

Speaking about the interview, public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said: “I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it.

“It was like watching a man in quicksand and unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out.”

The public is now calling for the Duke of York to show sympathy for the victims of the convicted billionaire sex offender he once knew.

Commentators are questioning his responses and condemning his unsympathetic tone as well as lack of remorse for the friendship with the sex offender.

Lawyers for some of the 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein have called on Andrew to make a statement to the FBI, still investigating Epstein despite his suicide in jail this summer while facing sex trafficking charges.

Prince Andrew was asked in the interview if he would give a statement under oath to investigators.

He replied: “If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty-bound to do so”.

Lisa Bloom, who is representing a number of the women, told Sky News: “My clients are very disturbed by all of those who were around Jeffrey Epstein who don’t seem to get it, even now.

“Even now that dozens and dozens of women have come forward and told these horrific stories. Here was the chance for Prince Andrew to say ‘my heart goes out to the women, I am so embarrassed and upset that I was ever associated with this monster...”’

She went on to say: “Instead what we hear is he thinks it was honourable to go to his home after his sex crimes conviction and spend four days there because Jeffrey Epstein could introduce him to people, that makes no sense at all.

“He doesn’t seem to have any compassion for the victims, he doesn’t seem to have much remorse for his long friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.”

During the interview the Duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage.

He claimed one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

(Statista

The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong, the Duke said.

He claims he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

The Duke twice said his relationship with Epstein had provided “seriously beneficial outcomes”, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

He expressed regret at making contact with Epstein in 2010 – flying to New York to say in person the friendship was over – after the 66-year-old had been released from an 18-month prison term for prostituting minors.

But Ms Maitlis highlighted how he spent a number of days with him at his home, and how he was guest of honour at a dinner party she said celebrated Epstein’s release.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that in the wake of the interview, Andrew could find himself out of the core royal family, if reports are correct that the monarchy will be slimmed down when the Prince of Wales becomes king.

Additional reporting by agencies

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