Prince Andrew, Duke of York, has broken his silence on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal in an interview with the BBC. Until now, Andrew - who has strongly denied claims that he had sex with Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre (nee Roberts) - had only released statements on the issue through Buckingham Palace’s press office.
On the alleged photograph of Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts:
The Duke of York said: “Listen, I don’t remember, I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken.
“I don’t remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs and I am not entirely convinced that...I mean that is...that is what I would describe as me in that...in that picture but I can’t...we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand on her whatever it is, left...left side.”
On going to Pizza Express on the night he is accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts
He said: “No, I’ve no recollection of ever meeting her, I’m almost, in fact I’m convinced that I was never in Tramps with her. There are a number of things that are wrong with that story, one of which is that I don’t know where the bar is in Tramps. I don’t drink, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there.
“On that particular day that we now understand is the date which is the 10th of March, I was at home, I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
“And then because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home.”
On his inability to sweat:
BBC interviewer Emily Maitlis described allegations made against the Duke of York by Virginia Giuffre (nee Roberts) during the Newsnight interview.
Emily Maitlis said: “She was very specific about that night, she described dancing with you.”
To which Prince Andrew replied: “No.”
Ms Maitlis continued: “And you profusely sweating and that she went on to have bath possibly.”
The Duke of York then revealed a “peculiar medical condition” he said he struggled with at the time.
The Duke of York said: “There’s a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time and that was...was it...yes, I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at and I simply...it was almost impossible for me to sweat.
“And it’s only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I am starting to be able to do that again.
“So I’m afraid to say that there’s a medical condition that says that I didn’t do it so therefore…”
On staying in Epstein’s house in 2010:
“It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times.
“At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do.
“But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.”
The effect on his close family:
The Duke of York said: “It has been, what I would describe as a constant sore in the family.
“We all knew him and I think that if we have a conversation about it, it’s...we are all left with the same thing, what on earth happened or how did he get to where he was, what did he do, how did he do it?
He added: “And so it’s just a constant sort of gnaw. I mean this first came out in 2011 and it was a surprise to...to all of us because the photographs were published at a separate time to when I was there and then we sort of questioned what on earth is going on and as a family we discussed it.”
The effect on The Queen:
The Duke of York said: “I don’t believe it’s been damaging to the Queen at all, it has to me and it’s been a constant drip if you see what I mean in the background that people want to know.
“If I was in a position to be able to answer all these questions in a way that gave sensible answers other than the ones that I have given that gave closure then I’d love it but I’m afraid I can’t.
“I’m just not in a position to do so because I’m just as much in the dark as many people.”
On his friendship with Epstein:
Interviewer Emily Maitlis asked: “Do you regret the whole friendship with Epstein?”
Prince Andrew replied: “Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.
“He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren’t that close.
“So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.”