Prince Andrew stands by car-crash Jeffrey Epstein BBC interview despite backlash

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PRINCE Andrew ‘stands by his decision’ to give the BBC interview on his links with his paedo pal Jeffrey Epstein, palace sources have claimed today.

The Duke of York was blasted for his “lack of empathy” for the disgraced millionaire’s alleged victims in his car-crash interview.

The royal was infamously pictured with his arm around Virginia when she was 17 at a party thrown by Epstein

Prince Andrew said was at Pizza Express in Woking on the night Ms Roberts alleged he had sex with aged 17
Prince Andrew said was at Pizza Express in Woking on the night Ms Roberts alleged he had sex with aged 17

The Duke of York spoke during and 'unvetted' questions interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis
The Duke of York spoke during and ‘unvetted’ questions interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis

Sources close to the Queen’s third child told the BBC he wanted to address the allegations head-on and did so with “honesty and humility”.

Earlier today, the Queen was pictured looking stoic as she was driven to church, the day after her son’s “PR disaster” chat about Epstein.

Her Majesty attended the Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park, after Prince Andrew said the Royal Family had been “supportive”.

It comes hours after Prince Andrew gave an interview to BBC2 Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis about his links to Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew denied he had sex with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts in 2001 after going to Tramps nightclub in London, claiming he was at a Pizza Express in Woking with his daughter Princess Beatrice.

Ms Roberts claims she had sex with the prince three times – which he strongly denies.

The duke said the whole episode had not been damaging to the Queen, only to himself, and that the wider royal family “couldn’t be more supportive”.

Viewers pointed out that the royal should have made his comments while under oath.

One said: “As much as were laughing at the Prince Andrew interview for the car crash it was, he should be answering these questions in court under oath!”

Another wrote: “Who advised Prince Andrew to do this interview? Surely hes just better to give a statement under oath and be done with it. Until then it will never go away..”

Ms Maitlis asked Prince Andrew if he would be willing to give a statement under oath about the allegations against him.

He said: “Well Im like everybody else and I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing.

“But if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.”

And asked if the episode reflected badly on the Queen, he replied: “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.

The duke said the controversy had a negative affect on him: “… it’s almost a mental health issue to some extent for me, in the sense that it’s been nagging at my mind for a great many years.”

The embattled Duke of York has faced continued scrutiny over his relationship with Epstein, who hanged himself in August while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges.

Andrew was infamously pictured with his arm around Ms Roberts at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home in London in 2001.

The Duke was last pictured with Epstein in New York in 2010 after the hedge fund manager had been released from prison and was a registered sex offender.

Ms Maitlis grilled the royal on whether he had any regret or shame about his friendship with the convicted sex offender.

Andrew said: “Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.”

Ms Maitlis replied: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.”

He clarified: “Yeah, Im sorry, Im being polite, I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender.”

Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said: “I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it.

“It was like watching a man in quick sand and unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out.”

Epstein was first jailed in 2008 for procuring an underage girl for prostitution. He got an 18-month sentence, during which he was able to go on work release to his office six days a week. He was released on probation after 13 months.

This July he was arrested on sex trafficking allegations. On August 10 he was found hanged at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Centre three weeks after being found unconscious with neck injuries.

Checks were not carried out on the night in question, and CCTV appeared to have malfunctioned. Officials are investigating.

The Queen on her way to church in Windsor today after Prince Andrew’s interview

The interview will air on BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis
The interview aired on BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis last night

She was pictured in an eye-catching bright blue hat as she attended church

Prince Andrew was slammed by viewers for his 'lack of empathy' in his interview
Prince Andrew was slammed by viewers for his ‘lack of empathy’ in his interview

Prince Andrew, pictured with Jeffrey Epstein in New York in 2010