Prince Andrew says he let the Royal Family down in his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein

The second son of Queen Elizabeth II spoke to the BBC in an interview recorded Thursday at Buckingham Palace.
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By Janelle Griffith

Prince Andrew said in an interview with the BBC that he let the Royal Family down by staying with the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein after the American's 2008 conviction.

"That's the bit that… as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that."

He also said he did not recall ever meeting one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said she was forced by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew.

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Prince Andrew told the BBC.

In clips released Friday of the interview that the BBC has billed as "no holds barred," Prince Andrew discusses his relationship with Epstein, who was long dogged by accusations of sexual abuse.

The interview, which was recorded Thursday at Buckingham Palace with the BBC's Emily Maitlis, will air in full on Saturday.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York.Tristan Fewings / Getty Images file

In a further preview aired by the BBC Saturday morning, Prince Andrew defended his continued relationship with Epstein after his release from prison.

The Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, has said previously that he first met Epstein in 1999 and had stayed at a number of his residences, but saw him infrequently, maybe once or twice a year.

"It was a convenient place to stay," he said in the clip.

"I mean I've gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight that one could have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do," he added.

"I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honorable but that's just the way it is."

His ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, tweeted her support for him Friday, describing Prince Andrew as a true and real gentleman.

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"It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty+pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs," she said in a tweet accompanied by four photos of the British royal. "Andrew is a true+real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness + goodness"

Prince Andrew was named in court documents released in August that related to a 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s alleged victims against British socialite and former longtime member of the financier's inner circle, Ghislaine Maxwell.

"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction," Andrew said in an August statement from Buckingham Palace that was emailed to NBC News.

"I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know."

The conviction he mentioned is apparently in reference to Epstein's plea agreement in 2008 with prosecutors in Florida under which he served 13 months of an 18-month sentence for two state prostitution charges.

Prince Andrew also said in the August statement that he has "tremendous sympathy" for all those affected by Epstein's "actions and behaviour."

Epstein, 66, died by suicide in a federal prison cell in New York City in August after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges. He faced up to 45 years in prison on allegations that he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women at his homes in New York and Florida from 2002 to 2005. He pleaded not guilty.

Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's London home in a photo released with court documents.

Giuffre filed the 2015 defamation suit against Maxwell. Court documents related to the suit that were released in August revealed that Giuffre said in a 2016 deposition that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to provide sexual services for a number of powerful men.

Among Giuffre's allegations is that Maxwell ordered her to have sex with Andrew, a claim that Buckingham Palace has emphatically denied, saying that "any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue."

Giuffre released a photograph in relation to her defamation lawsuit against Maxwell which shows Prince Andrew in 2001 standing in a London apartment with his hand around her bare midriff. Maxwell is also in the photo.

Prince Andrew has not been charged with any crimes or named in any of the civil suits linked to Epstein.

Giuffre's 2015 lawsuit against Maxwell was settled out of court in 2017. The documents released in August represent only a portion of the case file and offer limited context in many places.

Giuffre's allegations against Prince Andrew were struck from the court records by a judge in April 2015. However, the judge did not rule on the veracity of the claims.

In her first television interview, which aired Sept. 20 on “Dateline,” Giuffre told Savannah Guthrie she was forced to have sex with Epstein and others, including Prince Andrew.

“The first time in London, I was so young. Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and said, ‘You’re gonna meet a prince today,’” Giuffre said. “I didn’t know at that point that I was going to be trafficked to that prince. And then that night Prince Andrew came to her house in London. And we went out to club Tramp. Prince Andrew got me alcohol. It was in the VIP section. I’m pretty sure it was vodka.

"Prince Andrew was like, ‘Let’s dance together.’ And I was like, ‘OK.’ And we leave club Tramp. And I hop in the car with Ghislaine and Jeffrey. And Ghislaine said, ‘He’s coming back to the house. And I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Giuffre also said: “I couldn’t believe even royalty was involved.”

Maxwell, who has not been charged with a crime, has not commented publicly on the released court documents or on any matter related to Epstein since his arrest in July. NBC News reached out to her attorney on Friday but did not immediately hear back.

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit prior to its being settled, Maxwell's lawyers said Giuffre "produced no evidence substantiating any of her fantastical claims that she had been trafficked by Epstein, or by Maxwell, to any of these men or any others."

A deposition by another woman, Johanna Sjoberg, which was also among the court documents released in August, also refers to Prince Andrew.

Sjoberg said in her deposition that she was a college student in 2001 when Maxwell approached her on the campus of a Florida college and offered her a job working the phones for Epstein, the court documents say. Sjoberg testified that she engaged in sex acts with Prince Andrew and Giuffre inside Epstein's mansion in Manhattan.

NBC News reached out to representatives for Prince Andrew at the time the court documents were released in August but they did not return a request for comment.