Just a handful hours before The Crown season 3 premiered, Prince Andrew took it upon himself to serve up even more royal drama. On Saturday at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II's son sat down with the BBC's Newsnight program for an interview about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the sex offender who killed himself this past August, shortly after he was charged with sex trafficking and abusing dozens of underage girls—or, as Prince Andrew put it, for conducting himself in an "unbecoming" manner. (When his interviewer, BBC reporter Emily Maitlis, questioned the royal's choice of wording, he apologized: "I'm sorry, I'm being polite.")
Over the course of the interview, Prince Andrew repeatedly pointed to his politeness to explain his past actions in relationship to Epstein (which some might also describe as "unbecoming"). After the pair met through Ghislaine Maxwell—the prince's longtime friend and Epstein's longtime partner and girlfriend—Prince Andrew enjoyed numerous stays at Epstein's New York mansion, private island, and Palm Beach residence, and also flew on the so-called "Lolita Express," aka Epstein's private jet. Never mind that Epstein was repeatedly being accused of abuse at the same time. Even the fact that he'd just gotten out of jail a few months earlier, after being charged with sexual assault of a minor, didn't stop Epstein from attending Prince Andrew's daughter Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle. (The prince said he was unaware of "what was going on" because Epstein, who attended as Maxwell's plus-one, "never said anything about it.")
According to Maitlis, neither the prince nor his team saw the questions ahead of time and they didn't forbid her from touching on any topics in particular in the interview, which Queen Elizabeth II herself reportedly approved. Unfortunately, this didn't work out too well for Prince Andrew: "Prince Andrew: I didn’t have sex with teenager, I was home after Pizza Express in Woking" is just one of the bizarre, and yet accurate, headlines that outlets like the Guardian ran after it aired. (No wonder his publicist quit two weeks ago, when the prince refused to back away from the chat.) Here, the most notable highlights from the full interview, from the prince's stop at the pizza shop to his apparent inability to sweat.
Epstein's sex trafficking coterie was as easy to overlook as staff at Buckingham Palace.
In response to a quote from the legal team of one of Epstein's accusers—"you could not spend time around Epstein and not know what was going on"—Prince Andrew responded:
"I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time and I don't wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein's house. As far as I was aware, they were staff, they were people that were working for him, doing things, I… as it were, I interacted with them if you will to say good morning, good afternoon but I didn't, if you see what I mean, interact with them in a way that was, you know what are you doing here, why are you here, what's going on?"
He couldn't have been clubbing with a 17-year-old, because he was at Pizza Express.
Virginia Giuffre, née Virginia Roberts, has alleged that in March of 2001, she and Prince Andrew went clubbing in London before heading to Maxwell's home, where they had sex. But that, Prince Andrew insisted, simple doesn't line up with his schedule, which he described as "very unusual" that day:
"I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose four or five in the afternoon. And then because the Duchess [his wife, Sarah Ferguson] was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home."
He doesn't sweat.
Maitlis pointed out that Guiffre, too, had very specific memories about the night in question, like how Prince Andrew was profusely sweating at the club where they were allegedly dancing. But that, Prince Andrew explained, simply doesn't make biological sense:
"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 and that was… was it… yes, I didn't sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland's War when I was shot at and I simply… it was almost impossible for me to sweat. And it's only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I am starting to be able to do that again. So I'm afraid to say that there's a medical condition that says that I didn't do it so therefore…"
He recognizes himself in a photo with Guiffre, but not his hand.
Posing for photos is practically part of royals' job descriptions, but there's no denying that the photo of Prince Andrew holding Guiffre with his arm around her bare waist, and with Maxwell in the background, stands apart. Prince Andrew confirmed that he recognized himself—though not all of himself:
We can't be certain as to whether or not that's my hand on her whatever it is, left… left side ... Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored but I don't recollect that photograph ever being taken.
He stayed with Epstein post-prison stint because he's "too honorable" and didn't want to be a "chicken."
Six months after Epstein was released from prison for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, Prince Andrew stayed at Epstein's mansion for several days. According to Prince Andrew, he wasn't aware that young women were coming and going from the home during the same period of time, because he was actually there to cut ties with the man he was staying with:
"I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together. And I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken's way of doing it. I had to go and see him and talk to him."
As for why Prince Andrew apparently felt the need to stay with Epstein, too, the royal explained that it all goes back to honor:
"It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. 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."
It's too "difficult" for men to forget having sex.
After grilling Prince Andrew on whether or not he had sexual contact with Guiffre on any of the three occasions that she alleges—which the prince categorically denied—Maitlis attempted to settle the matter once and for all: "For the record, is there any way you could have had sex with that young woman or any young woman trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein in any of his residences?" Once again, Prince Andrew insisted that there was not, though this time, he also provided a meditation on sex in general:
"If you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to … take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it's very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything."