EXCLUSIVE: Despite reports claiming Prince Andrew was “happy” with the now-infamous interview he gave to Newsnight about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the Duke of York’s team says he’s far from thrilled.
On Tuesday, U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that BBC presenter Emily Maitlis, who interviewed the British royal at Buckingham Palace, spoke to Radio Times, and said: “We know that the palace was happy with the interview. We had plenty of engagement with them after it went out. I think their shock was not at the interview itself, but the reaction it caused in the days and weeks afterward.”
U.K. royal correspondent Neil Sean told Fox News that a source close to the duke, 60, said Andrew’s team was disappointed that the sit-down ultimately backfired on the royal.
“If anything we were all very sad that the situation had come to this,” the source claimed.
The palace insider also scoffed at Maitlis, who appeared on the cover of Radio Times alongside Newsnight chief Esme Wren with the headline “How We Did It,” referring to the bombshell tell-all.
“[It] shows that the agenda was totally different from the agreed sit-down interview,” claimed the source.
“Prince Andrew agreed to a sit-down chat with no other assistance in the room – no notes to confer to unlike the production and presenter on screen, so for this to be paraded around the media as some kind of triumph shows just out of touch the BBC has become,” the source alleged. “The interview was in no way seen as a celebration but an opportunity to give a frank and full account of his time and friendship with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.”
The insider also alleged: “One thing we should have insisted on was the right to view before the screening and of course, a full copy of the unedited tapes of the interview. But after months of negotiations, we were worn down by the endless requests and mails and the duke felt he was offering his best to set the record straight.”
Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday – Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, The Duke Of York and Jeffrey Epstein (far right) At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (in pink), the Earl and Countess of Derby.
(Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Maitlis pointed out she was expecting Andrew to show any kind of sympathy to Epstein’s accusers.
“We’d assumed that he’d want to show empathy to the victims or pin the blame on Jeffrey Epstein,” said Maitlis, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “We couldn’t understand why he hadn’t done that. We definitely thought he’d be spikier.”
According to the outlet, the interview had taken a year to plan. And while Maitlis could have opted for a shorter interview, they held out for “something more comprehensive.” And within a few minutes of the interview beginning, she knew they had something “explosive.”
“First, he was tackling the matter head-on,” she explained. “Secondly, the lack of apology or any real expression of regret told me that the prince still believed that his actions had broadly been the right ones. And thirdly the level of detail was unlike anything I was expecting.”
Britain’s Prince Andrew
Maitlis’ interview with Andrew earned Newsnight a nomination in the news coverage category at this year’s BAFTA Television Awards. As for Andrew, he has since withdrawn from public duties.
The palace insider also told Sean that the duke also decided to remain off the public pictures of his daughter [Beatrice’s] wedding at Windsor last week so that “the focus, rightly so, should be on her and nothing else.”
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein have 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,” the statement posted to the royal family’s Twitter account read in part.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York leaves the headquarters of Crossrail at Canary Wharf on March 7, 2011, in London, England. Prince Andrew is under increasing pressure after a series of damaging revelations about him surfaced, including criticism over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, an American financier.
(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
“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 concluded: “I continued to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. 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. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
The sit-down is still recognized as a total public relations disaster for the Duke of York.
Many in the media were quick to deride the prince for not only defending his friendship with Epstein but for failing to show empathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims.
Photo from 2001 that was included in court files shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew has denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
(U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, has said Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17. She says Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” the Duke of York said in his interview.
Giuffre had challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters in New York “he knows exactly what he’s done.”
“And the answer is nothing,” Andrew told the BBC.
Andrew admitted: “I kick myself … on a daily basis” for being friends with and staying with Epstein on multiple occasions.”
“I stayed with him and that’s [something] I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,” the second son of Queen Elizabeth said.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefiting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005, in New York City.
(Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Elsewhere in the interview, Andrew admitted that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of the people he met and all the things he learned, another statement for which he was chastised by the media.
Epstein, 66, died in jail on Aug. 10, 2019, while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that prosecutors alleged involved many girls over several years in the early 2000s.
Andrew’s decision to grant an interview that went into forensic detail about his well-documented ties to a sex offender was a high-stakes gamble in a country where royals traditionally don’t submit to such questioning. When royals speak at all, they usually offer carefully considered comments about charitable works.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.