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Prince Andrew describes BBC interview as ‘great success’

The Independent logo The Independent 18/11/2019 Vincent Wood

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Watch: Prince Andrew interview 'was a PR disaster' (ITN News)

Prince Andrew has reportedly described the interview in which he answered questions on his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein as a “great success” – despite it being widely described as a “car-crash”.

The Duke of York is believed to have been a driving force in the decision to take part in the public grilling from the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, during which he said he did not regret his relationship with the disgraced billionaire financier as it had “seriously beneficial outcomes” for him.

His attempt to set the record straight has been widely condemned for its unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse for the friendship.

Related: Andrew's one regret over BBC interview

a group of people in a room © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Andrew twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, presented him with opportunities to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

He denied he slept with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

He also cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of the then-17-year-old Ms Giuffre, suggesting it may have been “doctored”.

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But the duke is understood to have stood by his decision to take part in the programme, according to reports.

“The Duke went to church with the Queen [on Sunday] and was heard telling her it’s all been a great success,” one palace source said, according to The Sun.

“He thinks he’s done the right thing and has put the criticism to rest. He was all smiles and was looking very buoyant and happy.”

Gallery: Jeffrey Epstein's network: Who's who in his circle (USA Today)

This comes amid claims the Queen did not give approval for the interview.

Palace insiders told The Daily Telegraph the Duke’s office was “operating in a silo” away from her majesty, with former royal staff referring the resulting interview as “excruciating“, and a “car crash”. The Guardian meanwhile reports Prince Andrew was so pleased with the grilling that he followed it up by giving the BBC team a tour of Buckingham Palace.

© Shutterstock Prince Andrew’s former head of public relations Jason Stein is understood to have left his job at the palace a few weeks before the interview after advising against it.

Related: Queen did approve Andrew's 'disastrous' interview, Emily Maitlis says

Meanwhile legal experts have claimed that beyond being a questionable PR decision, the interview may have left the prince open to extradition demands from US prosecutors.

Anna Rothwell, from criminal law firm Corker Binning, said: “Prince Andrew is not entitled to any form of immunity by virtue of his position as a member of the Royal family.

“His friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is under investigation by the FBI and he is vulnerable to extradition.

“It is therefore very unwise for the prince to give any account to the media, especially one which so starkly exposes the closeness of his relationship with Epstein, and again betrays yet another appalling lack of judgment.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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