Prince Andrew says in BBC interview 'nothing' happened between him and Virginia Giuffre
The prince's high-stakes BBC interview was broadcast on Saturday.
Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth, in a high-stakes interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. categorically denied allegations he had sex on multiple occasions with an American teenager who's claimed she was trafficked to the prince at the direction of Jeffrey Epstein.
"I've said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever," the prince said, responding to a question about allegations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
Giuffre has claimed in court records and deposition testimony she had sex with the prince on two occasions when she was 17, in London and in New York, and a third time when she was 18, at Epstein's private island estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Epstein, a convicted sex offender, died in prison in August.
Asked by BBC presenter Emily Maitlis about those allegations, the prince replied, "No. All of it. Absolutely no to all of it."
While denying the allegations against him personally, the prince stopped short of saying he regretted his long friendship with Epstein.
"Now, still not," the prince said. "And the reason being is that 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."
The prince added: "We weren't that close."
The rare interview, broadcast in prime time Saturday in Britain, was the result of a months-long negotiation that ultimately had to be approved by the queen herself before it was recorded earlier in the week, Maitlis said.
For nearly a decade, the prince has been under scrutiny for his association with Epstein, a multi-millionaire financier and the subject of state and federal investigations since the mid-2000s for allegedly recruiting underage girls for illicit massages and sex.
Epstein ultimately avoided federal charges involving allegations of abuse against nearly three dozen girls by agreeing to plead guilty two comparatively minor charges in Florida state court. He served just 13 months of an 18-month term in a county jail.
He was charged again, in July of this year, in a two-count federal indictment for child sex-trafficking and conspiracy for alleged crimes in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. He died in prison on Aug. 10 from an apparent suicide.
Prince Andrew, who said he'd met Epstein in 1999, first became embroiled in the controversy in late 2010 when he was photographed walking with the convicted sex offender through New York's Central Park shortly after Epstein's sentence ended in Florida.
The prince claimed in the BBC interview that the purpose of that visit was to inform Epstein he could no longer be associated with him due to his criminal conduct.
"I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken's way of doing it," the prince added. "I had to go and see him and talk to him."
Pressed by Maitlis on why he chose to stay at Epstein's mansion if he was ending the relationship, the prince said he did it out of convenience.
"I mean, I've gone through this in my mind so many times," the prince added. "At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do, and I admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable. But that's just the way it is."
In December 2014, Giuffre alleged in court filings she had been recruited as a teenager by Epstein's longtime companion, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, for a job as a traveling masseuse. She further claimed she'd been directed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions. Those allegations were later stricken from the court record by a U.S. federal judge.
Giuffre, now a 35-year-old mother of three living in Australia, subsequently filed a defamation suit against Maxwell, which settled for undisclosed terms in 2017. Her allegations against Prince Andrew eventually resurfaced in the court records of that case. Included in her filings, many of which remained under seal until this summer, was a photograph of Prince Andrew with his arm around Giuffre's waist, while Maxwell smiled in the background. Giuffre contends she was 17 when the photo was taken in 2001, on the second-floor landing of Maxwell's London home, and that she had sex with the prince shortly after the photo was snapped.
In his interview with "Newsnight," however, Prince Andrew said couldn't remember ever meeting Giuffre, and that he had doubts as to the picture's authenticity.
"I don't believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested," he said. "I think it's, from the investigations that we've done, you can't prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not, because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it's very difficult to be able to prove it, but I don't remember that photograph ever being taken."
The prince also contended that he had an alibi for the date of the alleged encounter, claiming he was home with his daughter, Beatrice.
"I was at home," the prince said. "I was with the children, and I'd taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon. And then, because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home."
As Maitlis recounted Giuffre's allegations of the night of the alleged sexual encounter in London, in which Giuffre claims she dined, drank and danced with the prince at Tramps nightclub, and that he sweated profusely on the dance floor, the prince seemed to let out a small snicker and said, "It didn't happen."
"I'm convinced that I was never in Tramps with her. There are a number of things that are wrong with that story, one of which is that I don't know where the bar is in Tramps. I don't drink, I don't think I've ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there," he said.
The prince went on to say that, at the time, he had a medical condition that prevented him from sweating.
"There's a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don't sweat, or I didn't sweat at the time," he added. "I didn't sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at, and I simply -- it was almost impossible for me to sweat."
Asked by Maitlis if he thought Giuffre, who's also alleged she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell to other prominent men, was lying about their alleged sexual encounters, the prince avoided a direct answer.
"That's a very difficult thing to answer," he said, "because I'm not in a position to know what she's trying to achieve. But I can tell you categorically I don't remember meeting her at all."
All of those accused by Giuffre have denied the allegations.
Before the BBC interview this week, the prince had long avoided being questioned about his relationship with Epstein and the allegations of Giuffre, instead relying on a series of denials issued by Buckingham Palace.
"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with her," read a statement from early 2015.
In the interview, the prince acknowledged, over the years, that he'd visited several of Epstein's homes -- in New York, in Palm Beach, Florida, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- but contended he'd never observed any behavior by Epstein that alarmed him.
The prince said he was first introduced to Epstein in 1999 by Maxwell, Epstein's girlfriend at the time, whom the prince said he'd known since her days at university. He contended that his friendship with Epstein was never particularly close, but was an inevitable by-product of his relationship with Maxwell.
On one occasion in 2000, he said, Epstein and Maxwell visited Sandringham, the Queen's estate in the British countryside, for what the prince described as "a shooting weekend."
As the interview neared a close, the prince was asked once more by Maitlis if he had any guilt, shame or regret about his friendship with Epstein.
"As far as Mr. Epstein was concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010," the prince replied. "As far as my association with him was concerned, it had some seriously beneficial outcomes in areas that have nothing to do with what I would describe as what we're talking about today. On balance, could I have avoided ever meeting him? Probably not, and that's because of my friendship with Ghislaine.
"Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes."
"Unbecoming?" Maitlis interjected. "He was a sex offender."
"Yeah," the prince said. "I'm sorry, I'm being polite."
After Giuffre first filed her claims in 2014, her attorneys wrote to the prince, seeking to question him about his relationship with Epstein, to no avail. After Epstein's death earlier this year, Brad Edwards and David Boies, her attorneys, renewed their request in another letter, asking Prince Andrew to respond to their questions "in a dignified manner and appropriate setting that would, we believe, clarify the record for everyone's benefit, including your own." It's unknown whether the prince responded to that letter.
"Would you be willing to testify or give a statement under oath, if you were asked?" Maitlis asked the prince.
"Well, I'm like everybody else," he replied. "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."
Outside the final court hearing in Epstein's criminal case in late August, Giuffre vowed to continue to demand answers from the prince, Maxwell and others she claims aided Epstein in facilitating or participating in her alleged abuse.
"I will never be silenced until these people are brought to justice," Giuffre said.
As for the prince's denials, she said, "He knows exactly what he's done, and I hope he comes clean about it."
Asked by Maitlis to respond to Giuffre's claim that he knows what he's done, the prince said, "And the answer is, nothing."