With his BBC interview over the weekend, Prince Andrew has catapulted himself into a rarefied category that also includes his brother Prince Charles and Charles’ late wife, Diana: They’re all royals who sat for wildly ill-advised interviews that became scandals in and of themselves. With Charles, it was the infamous 1994 interview in which he first admitted he had been unfaithful in his marriage. With Diana, it was the 1995 interview that gave us the unforgettable quote, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” And now Andrew may be remembered for years to come for trying and failing to talk his way out of his connection to Jeffrey Epstein and the allegations that Andrew himself engaged in sexual misconduct.
The Epstein case is complicated and laden with conspiracy theories, so here’s some context about where the prince fits in and what allegations he faces, and how he might have finally turned Britain against him for good.
Who is Prince Andrew?
He is the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, younger brother to Prince Charles and Princess Anne and older brother to Prince Edward. He was formerly married to Sarah Ferguson, with whom he fathered two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
What’s his association with Jeffrey Epstein?
The two first met in 1999 through Epstein’s onetime girlfriend and alleged “fixer,” British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, and over the years, they became friends. Epstein was awaiting trial for sex trafficking when he died by suicide in August, leaving many open questions about who around him may have been involved in or complicit in his crimes. Andrew stayed at Epstein’s homes in New York and Florida as well as on his private island in the Caribbean and attended dinners he hosted, including after Epstein had served prison time and registered as a sex offender. Andrew in turn invited Epstein and Maxwell to royal parties. At Andrew’s request, Epstein even helped pay off his ex-wife’s debts.
What did Andrew do to gain this current groundswell of attention?
He sat for a disastrous interview in which he defended his friendship with Epstein and tried to deny any wrongdoing on his part. He told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, “Do I regret the fact that [Epstein] has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.” To this she responded, “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.” The prince apologized, “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite. I mean, in the sense that he was a sex offender.” He claimed that he had only stayed with Epstein in 2010, after Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution, in order to end their friendship. In response to photographs of him with Epstein the following year, he said, “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. We try and uphold the highest standards and practices, and I let the side down, as simple as that.” The prince didn’t say that he regretted his friendship with Epstein overall, noting that Epstein introduced him to interesting people and things.
What allegations have been made against Andrew?
A woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre has alleged that Andrew had sex with her multiple times when she was 17 years old in 2001 and 2002, as arranged for by Epstein. Another woman has alleged that Andrew groped her breast during this time. The allegations suggest that the prince was aware of the grooming and trafficking of underage girls that was taking place around him.
How did Andrew respond to those allegations?
He vigorously denied them, claiming to have no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre. Giuffre alleged that she met Andrew in a club in London and that he got very sweaty as they danced. Andrew denied this, claiming that he had a medical condition at the time that caused him to be unable to sweat. (He said he acquired it during his tour in the Falklands War.) Pointing to one of the dates on which Giuffre alleged they’d had sex, Andrew said he couldn’t have, because he took his daughter to Pizza Express that day.
Though Andrew said he doesn’t recall Giuffre, there is a photograph from the time that shows Andrew with his arm around Giuffre, and Maxwell, the Epstein associate, smiling in the background. (More photos and videos that would seem to disprove the prince’s defense have emerged since the interview.) Andrew said that the photos showed him dressing more casually than he would have and that he is not one for public displays of affection. Others in his camp have suggested that the pictures were doctored.
What kind of circumstances or injury would stop a person from sweating?
This condition is called anhidrosis or hypohidrosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dozens of factors can cause the condition, including skin trauma and certain diseases and medications.” One can be born with the condition or, as Andrew claims happened to him, develop it later.
What’s a Pizza Express?
It’s a restaurant chain based in the United Kingdom, and yes, people have already started posting parody reviews online that joke about the prince’s strange alibi.
How did British media and the world react to the interview?
Tabloid headlines proclaimed: “Not one single word of remorse,” “No sweat … and no regret,” “I couldn’t have slept with teenager, I was at Pizza Express.” Charlie Proctor, the editor of a royals website, said he expected a train wreck but got “a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion.” The Guardian’s Catherine Bennett agreed that it was the “most catastrophic, ill-advised royal broadcast ever made.” Most of the criticism focused on the prince’s absence of regret for his friendship with Epstein—and his lack of compassion for the women who were victimized.
Where does all of this leave the prince?
Though the prince reportedly told the queen he thought the interview had gone well, that’s certainly not how it was received, and the fallout has been severe in the days since it aired. A new Epstein accuser, known as Jane Doe 15, came forward to call on Andrew to share what he knows about his friend with the FBI and prosecutors who are investigating the case in the U.S. In the interview, Andrew said that he would testify under oath “if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so.” Jane Doe 15 is just one of many people who have urged Andrew to cooperate with the FBI. One British tabloid reported that Andrew could be in for more trouble if a U.S. judge decides to unseal 3,000 pages of new evidence in the Epstein case from a 2015 lawsuit. The Daily Beast wrote, “One of the many unproven theories as to why Prince Andrew agreed to do the interview circulating this week is that he hoped to burnish his own image ahead of further allegations emerging.”
Accusations of racism against Andrew have also been published in British tabloids in the days since the interview, which the palace has denied.
Some companies that Andrew worked with through a palace entrepreneurship initiative are now trying to distance themselves from the prince, and charities are also reconsidering their association with him. A panel at a British university voted to remove him from a ceremonial post he held there.