Prince Andrews private secretary said royal met Epstein years before he claimed he did in car crash BBC interview


PRINCE Andrew’s former private secretary has said the Duke met paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein years before he claimed he did in his disastrous Newsnight interview.

The 2011 letter, penned by Alastair Watson, has cast doubt on when Andrew first met convicted sex offender Epstein.

The interview had been an attempt to salvage his reputation, but now realises ‘he missed a golden opportunity to express sympathy for Epsteins victims’

Major sponsors are ditching The Duke’s charity in the wake of the Newsnight interview, in which he defended his friendship with Epstein

Andrew told BBC Newsnight he first met the since-disgraced financier through “his girlfriend back in 1999”.

But in March 2011, the duke’s then private secretary Major Watson, who spent nine years in the role, wrote to The Times newspaper saying Andrew met Epstein in the “early 1990s”.

Major Watson, who was countering claims the duke was friends with Saif Gaddafi, wrote at the end of his letter: “Finally, there has been widespread comment on the duke’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

“The duke has known Mr Epstein since being introduced to him in the early 1990s.

“The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the duke are without foundation.”

A Palace spokesperson told the Sun Online: “The Duke’s words in his interview speak for themselves.”


In the car crash Newsnight interview, Andrew failed to express any sympathy for the victims of Epstein, who was found hanged in jail in August while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

He called the billionaire’s behaviour “unbecoming”, to which Maitlis replied: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.”

The Duke was also ridiculed over his repeated denials of any sexual relationship with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts.

He claimed he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking on the night he is accused of sleeping with Roberts, a “sex slave” of Epstein.

Roberts has claimed she met Andrew at London club Tramp, where he “sweated profusely”, before sleeping with him in 2001.

But the Duke claimed that was factually wrong as he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat, the result of being shot at during the Falklands conflict.

Andrew also said he did not regret having been a friend of Epstein, who killed himself in jail aged 66.

He said: “The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

Meanwhile the Daily Mail highlighted at least one example of when he and the Duchess of York broke what he called their “simple rule” that when one of them was away, the other was always with their children in the evening.

That “simple rule” was given as a reason why the prince could not have been with Ms Roberts in Tramp nightclub.

His private secretary Amanda Thirsk had pushed him to do the Newsnight interview in a bid to draw a line under the controversy.

But it has instead plunged the entire institution into crisis and overshadowed Prince Charles’s royal tour to New Zealand.

Friends say Andrew was initially delighted with the interview and, as HOAR revealed on Monday,he told the Queen at church on Sunday that the Newsnight special had been a great success.

But yesterday he was said to be unhappy after seeing negative worldwide publicity.

A friend said: He acceptshe missed a golden opportunity to express sympathy for Epsteins victims and he is kicking himself.”

A growing number of multimillion-pound businesses, universities and charities have severed ties with the duke as the fallout from his disastrous interview continues.

BT today said it will refuse to work with a firm unless it drops Andrew as a patron.

Andrew is considering a second TV appearance “to put right the things he didn’t say”, royal sources have said.

In the coming weeks the BBC is expected to broadcast a Panorama interview with Ms Roberts.

Amid growing pressure for the scandal-hit royal to step away from public life, Prince Andrew’s visit to flood-stricken York was cancelled

He has also come under fire for his response to the accusations that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl

It comes after Andrew told the Queen that his car crash TV sex quiz had been ‘a great success’

It seemed he was unaware of the backlash the BBC interview had caused

But now he is avoiding public appearances for fear of being booed by the public

Virginia Roberts is said to be set to destroy Prince Andrews denials in a new BBC interview