Prince Andrew is dealing with harsh backlash from critics and media personalities over an interview about his relationship with now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the numerous sexual assault allegations against the British royal.
Andrew, 59, was interviewed by BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis on Thursday at Buckingham Palace for a tell-all about his involvement with Epstein, which many unanimously agree was a total public relations disaster for the Duke of York.
Many in the media were quick to deride Prince Andrew for not only defending his friendship with Epstein but for failing to show empathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims.
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“I expected a train wreck,’’ said Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website, which covers the British monarchy. “That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion-level bad.”
Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, has said Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was 17. She says Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Giuffre had recently challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters in New York “he knows exactly what he’s done.”
“And the answer is nothing,” Andrew told the BBC.
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One Twitter user captured the reaction of many by posting a video of a man pouring gasoline on a fire under the headline, “#Prince Andrew.”
But it was his failure to show compassion for Epstein’s victims that earned Andrew the most scorn.
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who is defending many of Epstein’s victims, called for Prince Andrew to be interviewed by the FBI to help with the investigation into the late financier’s sex crimes during an appearance on Good Morning Britain.
“I don’t see how he could have not known that there were underage girls, minors, because he did visit homes of Mr. Epstein in New York, in Palm Beach, in the Virgin Islands and I happen to know that there were underage girls in all those locations,” she explained.
Elsewhere in the interview, Prince Andrew admitted that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of the people he met and all the things he learned, another statement for which he was chastised by the media.
“Deeply disappointing. Prince Andrew says he does not regret the friendship with Jeffrey Epstein because of the people he met. As a member of the royal family, does he not have the opportunity to meet virtually anyone in the world?” tweeted Attorney Lisa Bloom.
Andrew’s decision to grant an interview that went into forensic detail about his well-documented ties to a sex offender was a high-stakes gamble in a country where royals traditionally don’t submit to such questioning. When royals speak at all, they usually offer carefully considered comments about charitable works.
But if Andrew thought the gamble would draw a line under the affair, he is mistaken, said Kate Williams, a specialist in royal history at Reading University. Williams said that no amount of charity work is going to address the harm done in the interview.
“The Royal Household today will be in damage-control mode, trying to work out how to minimize the damage that has come from this,’’ she said. “He has to go. Simply, last night was really a burning of the bridges, I think, for Prince Andrew.”
Prince Andrew is Queen Elizabeth II’s second son and is eighth in line to the throne.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.