Prince Andrew Is "Stepping Back" From Public Duties Following His Disastrous Interview About His Friendship With Jeffrey Epstein
"I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."
Prince Andrew has announced that he is taking a step back from public duties, saying his former friendship with Jeffrey Epstein has become "a major disruption" to his charitable work.
The decision comes days after the Duke of York's car crash interview with Newsnight's Emily Maitlis in which he discussed for the first time allegations that he had sex with an underage girl and answered questions about why he had visited Esptein's New York home after the financier was convicted of sex offences.
One of Epstein's victims, Virginia Giuffre, has said she had sex with Andrew when she was 17 as part of years of abuse while under Epstein's control. She swore to her story in a court deposition, and a photograph shows her and the prince with his arm around her waist. Andrew has always strongly denied the allegations.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Andrew said: "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 organisations and charities that I am proud to support.
"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."
As a working member of the royal family, part of Andrew's role is to support the Queen by representing her at events and visits in the UK and abroad, including receiving Heads of State and Government officials, and attending state and ceremonial occasions.
Several organisations with ties to the Duke of York, including the English National Ballet, have announced they were reviewing their association with him, and KPMG announced it had pulled its sponsorship of his scholarship scheme following the BBC interview.
The royal was also criticised for not showing empathy to Epstein's victims and for saying he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, and going on to say, "The people I met and the opportunities I was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful."
Epstein killed himself in August while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges involving dozens of young victims.
In his recent statement, Andrew said he "deeply sympathised" with Epstein's victims.
"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise 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."