To say that this interview by the BBC with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, about Jeffrey Epstein is Andrew putting his foot in his mouth is — at best — a gross understatement. The upshot: Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth, claims he didn’t sleep with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts in 2001. He, a royal, claims that he, again a member of the royal family, was at a pizza shop.
Previously, Buckingham Palace has denied all allegations concerning Andrew and “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors,” according to The Guardian.
Let’s go to the transcript where Andrew describes it as the “honorable thing” to stay friends with Epstein even after Epstein pled guilty to sexual crimes against minors in Florida in 2008. This transcript is via Express:
Emily Maitlis: So in 2006 in May an arrest warrant was issued for Epstein for sexual assault of a minor. In July he was invited to Windsor Castle to your daughter, Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday, why would you do that?
Prince Andrew: Because I was asking Ghislaine [Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend and a friend of the prince]. But even so, at the time I don’t think I … certainly I wasn’t aware when the invitation was issued what was going on in the United States and I wasn’t aware until the media picked up on it because he never said anything about it.
Maitlis asked why Andrew stayed at Epstein’s mansion in December 2010. Andrew claims it was a small dinner party, not a party.
Maitlis: He was released in July, within months by December of 2010 you went to stay with him at his New York mansion, why? Why were you staying with a convicted sex offender?
Andrew: Right, I have always … ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do? Now, 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. 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.
Maitlis: That was December of 2010.
Maitlis: He threw a party to celebrate his release and you were invited as the guest of honour.
Andrew: No, I didn’t go. Oh, in 2010, there certainly wasn’t a party to celebrate his release in December because it was a small dinner party, there were only eight or 10 of us I think at the dinner. If there was a party then I’d know nothing about that.
Maitlis: You were invited to that dinner as a guest of honour.
Andrew then goes on to characterize staying at Epstein’s mansion as a “convenient place to stay” while he was in New York on other business beyond the party or dinner.
Andrew: 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 honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.
Maitlis: Because during that time, those few days, witnesses say they saw many young girls coming and going at the time. There is video footage of Epstein accompanied by young girls and you were there staying in his house, catching up with friends.
Andrew: I never ... I mean if there were then I wasn’t a party to any of that. I never saw them. I mean you have to understand that his house, I described it more as almost as a railway station if you know what I mean in the sense that there were people coming in and out of that house all the time. What they were doing and why they were there I had nothing to do with.
BBC also asked about Virginia Roberts, who’s now known as Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged that she met Andrew at age 17 and had sex with the royal. “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Andrew told BBC.
And this is where the pizza place comes into the story. On the day that he’s accused of being with Roberts, Andrew said he was with his children. “On that particular day that we now understand is the date which is the 10th of March, I was at home, I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon,” Andrew said. “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.”
Andrew said going to a Pizza Express is “an unusual thing.” He added, “I’ve never been. I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.”
The Guardian reported that it took six months to negotiate the interview, and the royal family (or staff) didn’t get the questions beforehand. Interviewer Emily Maitlis said on BBC Radio 4's Today that the interview had no off-limits topics. (Again, not a PR professional, but seems like a huge oversight!) “I was expecting to be told it’s beneath the BBC to be questioning a senior royal about his sexual history,” Maitlis said. “And to be fair to the Duke of York, we had no comeback, there was no question he didn’t address, there was nothing that was off limit.”
One lawyer said the interview could cause potential legal problems for the royal. “If he’d kept his silence he’d have been able to remain outside of the case, as he’s a witness and is entitled to diplomatic immunity. He was a private individual and now he’s waived that privacy,” Mark Stephens (who represented James Hewitt in the 1990s after Hewitt said he had an affair with Princess Diana while she was still married) told The Guardian.
Despite the huge get of a wide-ranging interview with Andrew, The Guardian wouldn’t be outdone by the BBC, so the outlet headed to the Pizza Express in Woking to ask residents if they could possibly recall their first visit to the location. They couldn’t, but dozens of fake reviews have popped up on the Google reviews for the Goldsworth Road location, spoofing the Duke’s story.
This is definitely proof that Mia Thermopolis didn’t need to be tied to a chair with Hermès scarves because bad posture will not be the greatest royal sin this century.