Prince Andrew’s misstep has unleashed a tide of criticism – especially over his complete lack of sympathy for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. With just 6% of the public saying they believe the prince’s answers over Epstein, Stylist takes a closer look at the Newsnight interview.
A royal circus has enveloped Prince Andrew after his car-crash TV interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis on Saturday 16 November. But what’s hardest to stomach throughout is the prince’s staggering failure to express sympathy or concern for Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims.
The prince stepped into his Newsnight interview – held in an opulent room at Buckingham Palace – brimming with denials, excuses and evasion. What was glaringly absent throughout the 58 minute interview was an acknowledgment of the women who claim the convicted sex offender abused and trafficked them for years.
At no point did Andrew offer a genuine, unqualified apology to those whose lives were ruined by Epstein – a man endorsed by a senior royal. A man accused of abuse by dozens of women. A man accused of leading a sex trafficking ring, detailed in 2,000 pages of documents revealed the day before he died in jail while awaiting trial in August.
Prince Andrew maintained a long friendship with the American financier, even inviting him to Sandringham for a “straightforward shooting weekend” in December 2000. Andrew’s conduct reveals a breathtaking absence of self-awareness, as he enjoyed a charmed life in the royal bubble.
The pair met in 1999 through Epstein’s then-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell. The prince insisted they were “friends” but not “close”, yet he invited Epstein to Windsor Castle in 2000, and was photographed holidaying with him at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2000.
Andrew told Maitlis that “there was no indication to me or anybody else” about what Epstein was doing.
As the Queen’s third child, the prince’s actions should be unimpeachable. But he was, in his own words, blinded by a man with an “extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together”. At best, Andrew was too eager to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful to spot the terrible truth. At worst, he didn’t care.
In 2005, the police began investigating the billionaire after a 14-year-old girl claimed he had sexually abused her at a Palm Beach mansion.
Just a year later, Epstein visited Windsor as a guest at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday. The prince claims he “wasn’t aware” an arrest warrant had been issued – yet it was his responsibility, with all the power of his staff and contacts, to find out.
In 2008, the financier admitted to procuring an underage girl for prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. That should have been the end of Andrew’s association with Epstein. The prince should have condemned the vile crimes of his friend in the strongest terms.
Yet two years later, after Epstein’s release, Andrew was photographed with him in New York’s Central Park and reportedly filmed at the sex offender’s mansion.
Andrew told Maitlis he met Epstein only to break off the friendship. Epstein’s home was “a convenient place to stay” for a few days, said the prince, but in hindsight it was the wrong choice. His convenience came above everything.
This arrogance will go down in history. To describe his only fault as being “a tendency to be too honourable” shows disrespect for Epstein’s victims, and an alarming inability to grasp the seriousness of such crimes.
In 2015, claims emerged in court documents related to Epstein that the prince had had sex with a teenager in 2001. Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims she was procured by Ms Maxwell as a sex slave for Epstein, and had sex with the prince “three times, including one orgy”, after they partied together at an exclusive London nightclub.
Buckingham Palace issued a denial, which Andrew later reiterated.
This year, legal documents revealed Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast at Epstein’s apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace released a statement describing the allegations as “categorically untrue”.
The prince has made a mockery of these accusations. During the Newsnight interview, he claimed he had “no recollection” of Giuffre, despite a photo of him with his arm around her bare waist. He suggested the photo could have been faked. He even said that it couldn’t have been him sweating at Tramp nightclub, because he “didn’t sweat” after being shot at during the Falkland’s War. It came off as little more than a pathetic attempt by the prince – once dubbed “Randy Andy” and “Airmiles Andy” – to paint himself as a hero.
He described in detail his memory of taking Beatrice to a party at a Pizza Express in Woking that day. The absurd comments have launched a thousand memes – but his buffoonery should not detract from the horrendous allegations.
The prince could only manage to call the billionaire’s appalling crimes “unbecoming” – to Maitlis’s clear disbelief.
Gloria Allred – a well-known women’s rights lawyer who is representing one of Epstein’s accusers – told Good Morning Britain that Andrew “has been in the court of public opinion… he should testify to the FBI”.
Perhaps most painfully for these victims, the prince has the temerity to present himself as a victim, saying he would testify if required because “there’s just as much closure for me as there is for everybody else” after “some very strange and unpleasant activities”.
His misstep has unleashed a tide of criticism. “My clients are very disturbed by all of those who were around Jeffrey Epstein who don’t seem to get it,” Lisa Bloom, who is representing a number of the women, told Sky News. “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.’”
Courtney Wild. Michelle Licata. Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Jena-Lisa Jones. Sarah Ransome. Maria Farmer. Annie Farmer. Jennifer Araoz. Where are the names of Epstein’s alleged victims, or recognition of the women who wish to remain anonymous? Of the women who say they were assaulted, raped or trafficked by a prince’s friend? Silenced at every turn.