Britain’s Prince Andrew announced Wednesday that he would be stepping back from his public duties as a member of the royal family because of the controversy surrounding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
The prince gave an interview to the BBC that was broadcast last Saturday and that roused the ire of critics who accused him of showing little concern for Epstein’s sex-abuse and sex-trafficking victims. Andrew said he did not regret his friendship with the late financier, who he said taught him about trade and business.
The prince also denied allegations by Virginia Giuffre that he had sex with her at one of Epstein’s parties when she was 17.
While Andrew had clearly hoped that the interview would end the controversy surrounding him and Epstein, it has only served to stoke it. Various business initiatives and charities associated with the prince have since said that they were terminating or rethinking their relationship with him.
In a statement issued by the prince’s office Wednesday, Andrew said that he had asked his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, if he could step back from his public duties for the “foreseeable future” and that she had consented.
“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein,” the prince’s statement said. “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.”
Lawyers for Epstein’s alleged victims have called on the prince to give evidence to the FBI about the late financier’s activities. In his statement, Andrew said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”