The past few days have not been great for Prince Andrew. The royal, who is the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and is eighth in the line of succession to the British throne, was likely hoping to clear his name regarding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and the allegations that he had sex with an underage girl in 2001, when he agreed to be interviewed by BBC Newsnight. Well, that interview aired a few days ago, and the reactions to it have not had the desired outcome. Now, Prince Andrew has decided to step down form his royal duties.
Earlier today, Prince Andrew released a statement, which can be found on the official Twitter feed for the royal family, stating his intention to leave his royal duties behind in light of the additional controversy caused by his interview with reporter Emily Maitlis. Here is what Prince Andrew had to say on the decision:
It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support. . . . I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein were well-known associates, but when a 2015 federal court filing accused Epstein of forcing Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who was underage at the time and an alleged victim of the sex trafficking ring he was said to have run, to perform sex acts with may prominent men, including Prince Andrew, what the prince knew about Epstein's activities came into question. Epstein died in prison of an apparent suicide while awaiting trial of federal charges of sexually abusing underage girls and running a sex trafficking ring, but he had pleaded not guilty.
After Prince Andrew's interview aired on Saturday, he came under fire not only for the responses to the questions asked in the nearly hour long interview, but for even submitting to the interview in the first place. As Prince Andrew noted in his statement, he's now fully aware of the negative effect that his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein (and, probably even more so, the BBC piece itself) has had on his and his family's ability to work with the many charities they support.
While the prince has continued to deny that he ever knew anything about Epstein's alleged illegal activities or that he ever had sex with anyone underage himself, many of the charitable organizations that he works with had already began to distance themselves from him since his interview aired. So, it's clear that the royal family felt that some damage control needed to be done so as to not impact the good work that so many of them try to do, as well as the general image of the family and institution they head.
Prince Andrew noted that he was stepping down "for the foreseeable future," and while there has been no public limit put on his time away from what were his royal duties, the controversy over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the allegations against the prince himself, what he revealed in the interview and the additional questions raised by it are unlikely to die down any time soon. So, he'll probably be away for quite some time.
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