Prince Andrew said Wednesday he is stepping away from public duties for the foreseeable future because of the controversy surrounding his relationship with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York’s announcement comes days after his disastrous television interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about his friendship with Epstein. Critics and the media widely panned the appearance.
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former associate with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” Prince Andrew said in a statement.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” the statement continued.
The statement goes on to express Prince Andrew’s regrets over his “ill-judged” association with Epstein, who killed himself in a New York prison earlier this year while awaiting trial on charges of running a massive sex-trafficking ring.
“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,” the prince said.
In the BBC interview, Prince Andrew denied allegations he had sex with an underage girl trafficked by Epstein.
But Prince Andrew also bumbled through the interview, saying he didn’t know an an arrest warrant was issued for sexual assault of a minor in 2006 and said it was a matter of honor to visit Epstein after his release of prison in 2006.
Critics in the United Kingdom blasted the interview and the unrepentant Prince Andrew as a “p.r. nightmare.”
The fallout continued as at least one company, British telecommunications group BT, said it would not work with companies that have relationships with Prince Andrew.