Prince Andrew Steps Back From Public Duties Amid Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

Prince Andrew announced on Wednesday that he is taking a step back from his public royal duties, saying that his reported association with alleged sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is becoming a distraction for the royal family, Reuters reports. The announcement comes following a disastrous interview in which he appeared to show little to no sympathy for Epstein's alleged victims.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work," the Duke of York said in a statement released Wednesday.

Further, he noted that he sought the permission of his mother, the queen, to take some time off, and that she granted that permission.

For decades, Prince Andrew was reported to be, at the very least, an associate of, if not a friend of, Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, who was accused of sexually trafficking and abusing underage girls, died in a prison cell earlier this year, by what has been reported a suicide.

Just how strong Andrew's association with Epstein remains a matter of debate. Virginia Roberts Giuffre has alleged in a civil suit filed in Florida that Epstein paid her £10,000 (about $13,000) to have sex with her, and that they did have sex on at least three occasions, including one when she was 17-years-old, according to The Telegraph.

Andrew has tried to distance himself from his purported connection with Epstein.

HRH The Duke of York attends a service of remembrance at St Annes Cathedral Belfast this evening (Monday) to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Wikimedia Commons | Northern Ireland Office

Last week, as reported by The Inquisitr, the duke gave an interview to the BBC's Newsnight program, during which Andrew seemingly failed to make his case. During the interview, described as "disastrous" by Reuters, Andrew gave "rambling" answers to questions about his association with Epstein. What's more, he appeared to show little to no compassion to Epstein's alleged victims.

So bad was the interview that the duke was, at one time, reportedly angling for a do-over.

In Wednesday's statement, Andrew did what he apparently failed to do in last week's interview: apologize and extend some sympathy to the alleged victims.

"I continue 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," he said.

Andrew also left open the possibility that he would cooperate with law enforcement, should he be asked. As of this writing, the duke has not been charged with any crimes.